Paint the Buildings Pink: Bringing attention to the need for housing. 2014 Johannesburg, South Africa.

Posted: January 10, 2015 in art, for your reflection, Solidarity

In Johanesberg South Africa a group of 30 artists recently have been pouring paint down abandon buildings to mark the buildings as places that should be used for housing for the people who live in “Shacks”. Columbia artist Yazmany Arbolleda his group Beware of Color tries to draw attention to the neglect of the city’s downtown buildings. Arboleda stated that this embodies the injustices in  the city.

Beware of color 2

 “Engaging the community and prompting reactions is a part of the process.”…Arboleda

“We wanted to literally highlight these buildings,” says Yazmany Arboleda, the Colombian-American artist who instigated the project while working at an art camp for underserved youth in Johannesburg. “There’s a housing crisis in this city and yet here are all these buildings not being used.”

One night in early August, he says, security guards near his chosen paint site became suspicious of a quiet knot of people, dressed as construction workers, tromping into an empty building with gallons of pink paint. They called the police, and after some negotiation, Arboleda was arrested, while the rest of the artists were ordered to leave the site.

After a night in prison on a charge of “malicious destruction of property,” Arboleda was allowed to go free, but he called off the project and returned to the U.S. soon after.

For photos more on this art go to, Beware of Color.

For another article, see Ryan Lenora Brown’s How Johannesburg’s Most Neglected Building Ended Up Splashed With Pink Paint.

Note from Furbirdsqueerly

We have no problem with these art works. We have no problem with bringing to the attention of the powers that be by any means the fact that there are empty buildings sitting rotting while in every city folks live in inadequate housing and many are homeless. We have no problem with painting the town or any town pink as we are comrades of dear old punkpink who agrees with Beware of Color and their goals. We do not see this art as vandalism and think pink should be used more often. Yes these forgotten buildings re-appear before us through pink and pink is honest and tells the truth.

Beware of Color in a beautiful statement on their site has this to say:

this is an urban experiment.

it is a questioning of what the city is, what it has been, and what it will be.

it is a re-framing of buildings that have been forgotten. they re-appear before us through pink.

it is a re-invention of space. a celebration of the unapologetic.

it’s a new story that needs to be written.

a love letter from our creatives to our land owners, our chief executives, our politicians.

we look at buildings that have been left behind by time and we caress their walls with our paint brushes.

we tickle them in hopes that they will tickle her.

she who walks to work in the morning her heels clinking and clanking.

we play with them in hopes that they will play with him.

he who sits around in the afternoon after waiting long hours in the unemployment line.

we whisper out their windows in hopes that they will whisper in their ears.

whisper to them: messages of hope instead of fear.

we know well that safety thrives in bright pink and danger dwells in muddy browns and faded greys.

hot pink laughs.

dark brown frowns.

hot pink dances.

grey merely moves.

together, we dress fear in pink in hopes that she will smile a little and join us in reinventing much.


Comments are closed.