PICS: This art installation in Alexandra doubles as a public library

2018-05-27 00:00
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alexandra art installation

The Alexandra art installation. (Photo: Supplied)

They’re beautiful to look at and they also serve a purpose. Retail firm Massmart – the company that owns Game, Makro, Builder’s Warehouse and CBW – is on a mission to build three mini libraries in our townships.

In July, it erected its first Urban Bookshelf at the Phefeni Recreation Centre in Orlando, Soweto. It features design work by renowned graffiti artist Rasik Green, AKA Mr Ekse.

This month, its second creation was unveiled at the Atrec Recreation Centre in Alexandra. Massmart commissioned Sifiso Gumede, an acclaimed emerging artist and Alexandra local, to collaborate on the bookshelf.

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At 2.8m high and made of powder-coated steel boxes, the new library features screenings of Gumede’s etchings, which explore the notion of township education and lack of resources to meet these needs.

“I strongly believe that books are weapons to succeed and overcome obstacles in life. The location is perfect because the vicinity has three schools close by. Easy access to the library will not only encourage pupils to read more, but also everyone else in my community,” says Gumede.

So what books will the library contain? The retailer says the structure can store between 450 and 500 books, and genres include African fiction, general fiction, non-fiction, current affairs and politics, law and business, as well as self-help and motivational titles. Major publishers Jacana and Jonathan Ball have jumped in on the project to supply the library with up-to-date reading material.

alexandra art installation

Alexandra art installation. (Photo: Supplied)

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So how does it all work?

Massmart’s Phumzile Siboza explains: “These libraries are based on community and trust. There are no staff policing you, no membership cards or fines. The idea is to take a book, read it at your leisure and return it when you’re done.”

Now that’s what we call design that matters.

alexandra art installation

Alexandra art installation. (Photo: Supplied)

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