Workshop "Sky drawings" with Katrin Wegemann at the Soweto Kliptown Youth (SKY)

Katrin Wegemann

April 2011

3,2,1, go! Red balloons make their way heavenwards above Kliptown. After a few seconds the thirty kids from Soweto Kliptown Youth realize their drawings in the sky worked out: they've made a wave with their balloons. Suddenly the quiet concentration turns into pure excitement. They start jumping, high-fiving and shouting after their balloons. Katrin Wegemann observes how her red balloons becoming smaller and smaller until they disappear.

Katrin came to Johannesburg to be a part of the "Time and Space"- Festival at the jozi-artlab. The german artist is exhibiting a kind of supersize soap-bubble-machine. Before Katrin created this installation, she worked on another one with eight balloons. Introduced to the Soweto Kliptown Youth, located in one of the poorest areas of the township, she developed the idea of many red balloons forming drawings in the sky, triggered on earth by a bunch of kids.

"So everybody draws a line from the left side of the paper to the right side." That's how the workshop started on the first afternoon. "They thought, how boring is that, I'm sure", the artist said later. The 10-18 years old youngsters knew the workshop would be about helium-filled balloons and wondered why they should sketch lines on paper. But when this lines turned into balloons in their hands, the drawings formed into something.

Finally the balloons got filled with helium. The kids started playing with them, painting and loosing them, fetching the balloons from the ceiling of the room, in which they did their rehearsal for the open-air performance on the next afternoon.

After all this practicing they were electrified to start the show. Surrounded by dozens of small children the youngsters lined up, kneed down and let the balloons fly on trained commandos. If somebody looses the balloon to early, he get teased by all the others so they made sure they are focussed. Jumping and hugging each other, they were proud to identify their very own drawings composed by red balloons in the sky above Soweto. 
                                             Rayka Kobiella

Kliptown Art Project