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Why Johannesburg's Empty Buildings Are Splattered in Paint

In a recent report published over on CityLab, Johannesburg-based reporter Ryan Brown chronicles why a series of abandoned buildings in the South African city's urban core have been splashed in hot pink paint. As it turns out, the audacious "Beware of Colour" "makeover" was spearheaded by Colombian-American artist Yazmany Arboleda, who sought to "literally highlight" the prime real estate that's been left to crumble. The project, which was executed by a crew of 30 artists starting last July, targeted "heritage buildings" that were more than 60 years old and have been unoccupied for the last ten years. These structures, as Brown points out, were "markers of the mass exodus of white capital" that transpired in Johannesburg in the '80s and '90s.

Brown explains that though the 2010 World Cup in South Africa spurred some interest in redeveloping these neglected buildings, many of them continued to sit neglected (despite the fact that some 20 percent of the population in the region lived in "informal shacks or squatter settlements.") The motivation behind "Beware of Colour" is obvious. Still, that didn't stop backlash from local architectural preservationists. Architect and heritage consultant Herbert Prins, for example, has called the effort a "childish prank". But even Prins had to acknowledge that besides all the pink paint, the fact that these neglected buildings have gone unnoticed for so long is the bigger concern.

After an arrest for "malicious destruction of property" followed by a quick release, Arboleda has since retreated to U.S. It's unclear if any transformative change will follow or who will even clean up the paint, so for now, it seems, the city will have to bear with the neon pink reminders. Read Brown's full dispatch over at CityLab.

· How Johannesburg's Most Neglected Buildings Ended Up Splashed With Pink Paint [CityLab]
· Explore 25 of the Year's Most Atmospheric Abandoned Buildings [Curbed National]
· All Abandonment Issues posts [Curbed National]