The Social Life of Waste/Art: Exploring the connection between waste, art and food across Southern Africa

Posted on November 17, 2017


On 22 November 2017, the Social Life of Waste/Art project will host a one-day symposium on waste, art and food at the University of Pretoria. The symposium is the culmination of a three-year project funded by the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation and the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences.

The aim of the project is to establish a regional network of academic researchers and art and food practitioners who could work together to raise awareness about the use of waste and the principles of re-use and recycling in making art, producing food and studying cities.  The network sought to achieve this by producing and disseminating research, making and exhibiting works of art created from waste materials and producing an educational toolkit. 

The project involved close collaboration between academic researchers and art and food practitioners, all of whom share an interest in work with waste or discarded material. The SLOWart Network consists of organisations and individuals in four cities in the region, namely Pretoria, Maputo, Harare and Johannesburg. Thus far, the project has held exhibitions of artworks created from waste at the Point Blank and MOAD galleries in Johannesburg, the Fortaleza Gallery in Maputo and the Brazilian Cultural Centre in Pretoria.

A successful Public Conversation recently held at the Old Fire Station in Pretoria included presentations by Ilze Wessels (UP) on waste-inspired design work and architecture; Emmanuel Munano (Pretoria Street Photography) on pinhole cameras made from waste material; Keneilwe Mokoena on her visual work with waste and bacteria; Pierre Reyneke (UP) on his master's research on changes in the city's waste management system and a new project called #ThinkTrolley; and Thabiso Legodi (UP) on waste spaces and the creative industry in the City of Tshwane.

The project leader, Dr Detlev Krige, explained that the project had been conceived under the Capital Cities Institutional Research Theme (CCIRT), based in the Faculty of Humanities. The project will also participate in the upcoming 'Conferencing the City' conference organised by the Capital Cities Institutional Research Theme.


For photos of the exhibitions and visual material, see

For more information on the Network, contact Dr Detlev Krige ([email protected]) or Dr Euclides Gonçalves ([email protected]).

To receive news via twitter, follow @SLOWartNetwork.

Two completed dissertations based on the project can be accessed at the addresses provided:

Reyneke, Pierre. 2016. The urban waste precariat's responses to the formalisation and privatisation of waste management in the City of Tshwane. MSocSci in Anthropology, awarded cum laude. University of Pretoria.

Wessels, Ilze Mari. 2016. Wasop: dissesive architecture. Master's degree in Architecture (Prof). Mini-dissertation. University of Pretoria. 



- Author Dr Detlev Krige

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