Zonnebloem Renamed is a temporary, site-specific artwork confronting dislocation and memorialization in post-apartheid Cape Town.
Artist Haroon Gunn-Salie performed this street art project on Sunday 17 August 2013, to mark the centenary of the 1913 Natives Land Act in South Africa. The performance consists of a street intervention where Gunn-Salie uses reflexive vinyl stickers to replace the “Zonnebloem” road signs in central Cape Town to read “District Six”. Known for its closely-knit, multi-cultural and multi-racial community, District Six was the only neighbourhood in Cape Town where a multi-racial community coexisted in peace. In 1968, it was declared “whites only” under the Group Areas Act, creating one of the most iconic sights of forced removal during South Africa’s apartheid years. Former residents were dumped in drab, racially divided dormitory townships on the sandy wastes of the Cape Flats, which rapidly degenerated into gang, alcohol and drug-infested sites of poverty. Gunn-Salie explores the past and future of this area in central Cape Town. After the removal, the government officially renamed District Six as Zonnenbloem (Sunflower), which still remains its official name. Zonnebloem Renamed opens up a dialogue about District Six as both a place and an idea, and the contemporary politics surrounding this site – an area precious both in real estate and historical terms. Months after Gunn-Salie carried out the intervention, the authorities had yet to restore the signs back to read “Zonnebloem”.