started this petition to
Cape Town City Mayor Patricia de Lille, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille
Art54’s pilot project in Sea Point has dramatically exposed Cape Town’s lack of a Public Art policy, by falling for an “artwork” which is a clearly identifiable Ray-Ban branded product, thus giving Ray-Ban free advertising in public space which is maintained with our taxes.
Advertising and art do not have the same function. Advertising is always guided by a defined objective: to sell a commercial product. Art, on the other hand, encourages broader thinking that may stray outside of the confines of immediate profit. This broader thinking is especially the main goal of public art.
We raise the following legal and ethical issues followed by our demands:
This work uses public space maintained with taxpayers’ funds, but it serves private, corporate interests.
Art54 stated its intention to commission "Work that promotes new and innovative ways of thinking about art in public spaces" but a recognizable brand product is not new and original, nor is the idea of outsized models of sunglasses, which are a fairly common sight around the world.
The conceptualization of the work has, according to both the city and Art54, deviated from its original terms submitted in its proposal. This represents non-delivery on a contract. As this has been publicly admitted to be the case, why has the piece not been removed?
Despite being at pains to represent themselves as different in this regard from National Government, Western Cape local government has been exposed by this artwork as spending public money irresponsibly and using public space inappropriately.
We the signatories therefore demand:
1) The removal of the piece form the Sea Point Promenade pending a full investigation into its commissioning
a) A full independent investigation that explains how Art54 and the City of Cape Town allowed public art to function as advertising
b) A full investigation of Ray-Ban's involvement, including the investigation of their strategists in conceptualizing and supporting the artwork
c) A response from the City as to what actions will be taken to prevent situations like this from taking place in the future