Internationally acclaimed South African artist Faith47 is no stranger to experimentation. As one of the most famous female graffiti and street artists alive today, she has been using the world as a canvas for her impactful and explorative art since 1997. Her self-taught artistic approach aims to transcend the political in order to enhance honest self expression and examine the internal and external complexities of the human condition. Her multimedia work resonates deeply with audiences from around the world, immersing viewers in her larger than life, symbolism-laced pieces, as unique and multi-faceted as a diamond.
Her most recent series, “Aqua Regalia,” refers to the name for a incredibly corrosive mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acid that is able to dissolve and transform the world’s most powerful substance, gold. This chemical transformation mirrors the project’s aim: to restore value and meaning to the intricacies of everyday life that have been discarded or overlooked and to transform these mundane remnants by enshrining them in a context that highlights their holiness. The first two chapters of the series came to fruition in galleries in London and New York, immersing the viewer in the dichotomy between the ordinary and the holy, transforming the daily minutiae of our lives, the curling photos and parking tickets and faded newspaper clippings, into sacred and luminous pieces of our personal narratives. The third iteration of Aqua Regalia finds Faith47 lending her tender elegance and evocative eye for detail to a new medium, creating a short film with filmmaker Dane Dodds amidst the throbbing, neon-lit metropolis of Hong Kong.
“There are some stories that live beneath other stories, breathe between sentences, intermingled and unseen, entwined. Distant universes delicately dancing.” The opening lines, narrated by Faith over images of abandoned buildings and everyday life in Hong Kong, express the intimacy and aching expansiveness that this five minute film captures, approaching the discarded remnants of our existence with elegant poetry and reverent curiosity.
Faith’s fascination with abandoned spaces and the layered stories and memories they contain led her to a desolate five story apartment block in a densely populated area of central Hong Kong. Sifting through the items left behind by former tenants, she found personal mementos and once-cherished relics, forgotten pieces of everyday life that ultimately fit together to narrate “stories made of bones and flesh and hair and tears, of orgasms and memories.” She began to reconstruct these mundane mementos into monumental, immersive shrines to the stories and emotions and lives they once represented, imbuing value and meaning back into the objects and elevating the everyday and the personal to the level of the sacred and the holy.
The film juxtaposes this process with footage of people moving through their daily lives in the city, intertwining our external and internal landscapes into a delicate dance, creating a powerful moving portrait of the things we carry with us and the things we leave behind, the subtle yet sacred things that make us human.
Watch the film below and follow Faith47’s work here.