I was happy when my promotion of the Everything is Going to Be OK graffiti artists, protestors for a better world, emailed me. Previous to that blog, i’d been posting photos of their stenciled graffiti on the Love Knysna Facebook to wonderful response – the public obviously wanted light to shine in their lives.
I requested an interview with the spray-can carriers who were delightfully calling themselves Wonder Woman and Superman. A few days later, they agreed but hoped that i would be able to include Elli Garb in the interview. Elli a.k.a. Miss Tomfoolery was the originator of the concept several years back in Johannesburg. She’d paste ‘Everything is Going to Be OK’ stickers in public spaces which led to a subculture of people unsticking them and re-sticking in other places. I’ve no idea how to get hold of Elli Garb but hoping she discovers this page and feels happy that she inspired.
Wicked Mike: Where did your inspiration come from?
Wonder Woman & Superman: Everybody has their stories… stories of pain, stories of fear, of loneliness, of discrimination, of desperation… But in all the chaos of our lives today, there are also stories of freedom, stories of love and stories of hope. I believe in God, and I know that without Him our lives would not have been possible so far. The message we are trying to spread is rooted firmly in my Faith, and in the Word of God; the message of LOVE and HOPE. I was walking around in Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg some years ago and I noticed a small black sticker outside the Psychiatric ward on the gate. It was plain…black with white writing on it saying “EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK”. This came at the end of a particularly hard day, and somehow that little sticker, that basic sentence gave me hope. Hope to face another day.
Wicked Mike: Why should we believe you that everything’s going to be ok?
Wonder Woman & Superman: It’s not about us. We are not special in any way. We are just like you. And we can also choose not to believe in the GOOD in the world around us. In South Africa specifically we have more than enough reason NOT to believe in any good and not to have any hope. We are not pretending it doesn’t exist, but with all the horrible things already happening around and to us, you have nothing to lose by choosing to believe. It might just change your life!
Wicked Mike: The world seems to be getting darker. Hope keeps people hanging on but how does it affect change so that we see light again?
Wonder Woman & Superman: To follow on from the previous question, the world does seem to be getting darker, but this depends on the eyes you are looking through. There are also many ways in which the world is getting better, getting lighter… but people need to make to decision to see it! This is exactly what we are trying to do. To leave small messages of hope in places where people would see them, and hopefully show them that even though things are hard, that there is HOPE and that it IS going to be ok.
Wicked Mike: In modern culture, ideas are more cool than life altering to a culture that lives in the now and speaks of the future as a concept rather than a home for their lives. How do we shake people out of their wilful ignorance?
Wonder Woman & Superman: I think this is probably the biggest obstacle to anyone who wants to make a difference in this world. Any action comes from an idea, and in our case this has actually been an idea for a long, long time. It takes a lot to actually get up from the couch and DO something, but as long as there are people who do, there remains hope.
This is actually something we have been faced with a lot. We creep around in the middle of the night, risking our ‘lives’… and sometimes people don’t even notice it. Or even worse, they do notice it but they do not seem to GET THE MESSAGE. We did a stencil late one night at the taxi rank outside Knysna on the way to Plettenberg Bay. I went back the next day to take a photo, and there was a taxi in front of it with about 12 people milling around. They all looked at me a little bizarrely when I tried to take a photo. The driver asked me why I am taking a photo, and I actually had to draw his attention to the words! He had seen it, but not noticed what it said. Sad… But it gave me the opportunity to talk to someone about our mission! He left smiling!
Wicked Mike: What do you want people to do with your graffiti?
Wonder Woman & Superman: Hopefully not paint over it! The idea is that people can look at it and be reminded that the world isn’t quite such a horrible place. If people see them, we would love for them to take a photo and send it to us, and tell us if it meant anything to them. The other thing that would be great is maybe for people to take it further, make their own stencils and spread the message.
Wicked Mike: You launched the Everything Is Going to Be OK website and a Facebook page last week – does this mean that you’re committed to the message for the long term?
Wonder Woman & Superman: Absolutely! It’s something has been coming a long way, and hopefully will continue to go a long way.
Wicked Mike: You’ve named yourselves as Wonder Woman & Superman. Can we take it that there are two of you?
Wonder Woman & Superman: 🙂 For now, yes! Hopefully we can get more people involved in the future.
Wicked Mike: What are your roles?
Wonder Woman & Superman: Wake up, get up, try to save the world! For now, I am mostly trying to get the website and facebook page set up and looking great. The stencils themselves are everyone’s role for now, and we are trying to spread them to different areas in our country as well.
Wicked Mike: How many people know your identities?
Wonder Woman & Superman: Not many. And for safety sake we try to keep it that way.
Wicked Mike: What will your response be to a cop who catches you ‘red-handed’ with a spray can in one hand and a half-finished slogan on a public wall?
Wonder Woman & Superman: HAHA!! This has actually happened!!! There is a blog entry about it on the website. I was driving through Richmond at around 1 am on the way from Johannesburg to Knysna over the December holidays, and was midway through the stencil when a police officer drove up. Part of me froze. Didn’t know if I should bolt for my car and run, or not. But I ended up walking up to the officer, and greeting him with a friendly smile. He asked what I was doing, and I told him I was just painting something on the wall (trying to sound as innocent as possible!). We spoke about what I wanted to paint, and what it meant, and after a lovely conversation he drove off with the words, “MAYBE IT”LL GIVE SOME PEOPLE HOPE.” So it could have been worse!
Wicked Mike: I’m hoping it never happens but what’s your plan if you are arrested?
Wonder Woman & Superman: The plan is not to get arrested!!!
Wicked Mike: What’s the future for Everything Is Going to Be OK?
Wonder Woman & Superman: We plan to continue with the stencils, spreading them as far as we can, working the website and Facebook page to get as many people involved as we can, and hopefully SAVING THE WORLD (like our superhero names say we should). But if the future involves only ONE person seeing the world or their circumstances differently, seeing that HOPE is alive, then that is our mission complete!
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