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AIDS RIBBON (article first published : 2000-07-10)

The Durban Art Gallery AIDS 2000 Ribbon which is to be on show during the XIII International Aids Conference makes history in many ways: It is the first time in Durban's history that the city centre will be closed to traffic for an artwork; at over 1,000 the number of artists involved make it a record number of participants in a single artwork, and it is the first time the City Hall will be encircled by an artwork.

The AIDS ribbon contains 100 panels, is four metres wide, 500 metres long and weighs 700 kg. It has involved all sectors of the community from AIDS orphans, school children, art students and community groups to individual professional artists. The panels were sewn together by the Hlomelikusasa Othandweni Women's group from the Valley of 1000 Hills area.

“Our vision had always been to tie the ribbon around the City Hall but the logistics proved too difficult for the Gallery to handle and so we called in the architectural department of the City at an early stage,” says DAG director Carol Brown. A meeting was held with the National Heritage Committee who had to assess whether, as a national monument, the City Hall would be treated with care and respect and whether the idea was appropriate for a building of such stature.”

Once permission was granted, the engineering company Flexible Structures was contracted to carry out the technical work. This was no mean feat. Site meetings were held on a weekly basis to find solutions to problems such as how to secure the ribbon to the second floor of a building, how to stop panels from flapping in the wind and where to place the AIDS bows.

All interested are invited to attend the unfurling ceremony on July 12 at 12h00 at the International Convention Centre and to participate in the parade. This will proceed to the Church Street entrance of the City Hall led by 100 brass band musicians from Manyuswa Senior Primary school while Roots and Wings will provide jugglers using red ribbons. After an opening address by the Executive Director: Parks, Recreation & Culture, Mr Thembi Ngcobo, a special dance piece will be performed by the Siwela Sonke followed by a programme of music supplied by the Amasiko programme and Durban Arts Association.




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