“It falls within the theme of connections that unite,” Meyer said in his description of the project.
The artists made 10,000 soft clay vessels, called ikomityi. These were carefully boxed up and taken to the streets in Cape Town. Residents there were encouraged to take one of these unfired cups and give it a squeeze, leaving an impression of a handprint on the cup. They got another taste of ceramic artistry by signing their name to the bottom of the vessel. Each participant received a keychain showing that they contributed to the project.
These vessels were fired, given a band of yellow glaze across the top, and taken to Robben Island, site of the notorious prison that held Nelson Mandela. The cups were arranged in the prison yard, where they made the number 4-6-6-6-4. Mandela’s prison ID was #466 and he was jailed there in 1964.
Video from Navigator Films
The cups remained until November 17, 2014. After that the cups were returned to the participants, but the participants did not receive their own vessel. The vessels were instead randomized, meaning that everyone who helped out received a symbolic handshake from a stranger. The political and humanitarian messages are plain and we like the way this art can, even if it’s just a symbolic gesture, help fight against feelings of alienation in society. Someone, somewhere in the urban landscape, shared an experience with you.
Do you love or loathe this public experiment in contemporary ceramic art? Let us know in the comments.