casspir 38057

Ralph Ziman

The Casspir Project, 2016

Restored 1981 South African police Casspir vehicle, glass beads, cotton thread, woven acrylic wool, and galvanized wire

9.35 x 23 x 8 ft.

Presented by The Casspir Project

The Casspir Project is a traveling multidisciplinary fine art exhibition that encompasses a variety of media including installation, photography, oral history, and documentary film, available to be presented in whole or in part. Artist Ralph Ziman was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. He created The Casspir Project as a response to apartheid’s effects on South African culture. The work stems from the oppression of apartheid, but instead of focusing on the past, it reclaims the violent imagery and tools from that time, repurposing them as a vibrant celebration of South Africa’s creativity and community.  

Anchoring the exhibition is an eye-catching and memorable piece of contemporary art— Ziman’s 11-ton, 9-foot-tall, 22-foot-long Casspir military vehicle, entitled SPOEK 1. Ziman worked with nearly 100 African artisans to cover the entire vehicle with brightly-colored beaded panels comprised of 70 million glass beads arrayed in traditional patterns. Together, they transformed the Casspir form a symbol of tyranny into an icon of peace. Through projects like SPOEK 1, Ziman creates income for African craftspeople while raising awareness of oppressive governments and militarized police forces around the world. 

Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, artist and filmmaker Ralph Ziman is based in Los Angeles, California. Ziman’s artwork has shown in solo exhibitions at Joseph Gross Gallery in Tucson, Arizona; C.A.V.E. Gallery in Venice, California; The Rendon Gallery in Los Angeles, California; PULSE Art Fair in Miami, Florida; as well as group exhibitions at the National Gallery in Cape Town, South Africa; the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in Brooklyn, New York; the FNB Art Fair in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Musée de Design et d’Arts Appliqués Contemporains in Lausanne, France; and Forum Schlossplatz in Aarau, Switzerland, among others. He has been featured in Art in America, BBC, CNN, The Guardian, The Independent, Hyperallergic, and other publications. His award-winning films have screened at prestigious festivals around the world, including the Berlinale International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, and Zurich Film Festival. His feature film Jerusalema was short-listed for a Best Foreign Film Language Academy Award nomination in 2008. 

Ralph Ziman, SPOEK 1, Installed at The Rendon Gallery, 2019. Image courtesy of The Rendon Gallery