For the 10th annual Hennessy Very Special Limited Edition, the Maison Hennessy announced its new collaboration with South Africa’s very own street-turned studio artist Faith XLVII which means this year, the Hennessy Very Special Limited Edition by Faith XLVII will be opening a dope new chapter in the Maison’s tradition of birthing new partnerships with amazing artists from all over the world, who are pretty much part of a global movement. And as the guest artist for this 10th annual Hennessy Very Special Limited Edition, Faith XLVII is actually the first female to join the popular Limited Editions series and join the artistic family that features the likes of internationally acclaimed talents such as Felipe Pantone, Vhils, JonOne, Shepard Fairey, Os Gemeos, Futura and Kaws. And with that said, HYPE actually got that chance to throw some questions towards Faith XLVII just to find out a little bit more about her, her inspiration, Hennessy, and how being the first female voice in this lineage means to her.
First question, usually when we speak to artists from different industries & backgrounds, I always to try to reflect on the “defining moment” that pretty much solidified the fact the artist had to choose that specific journey because for a majority of us it kind of all starts as a hobby but for a few a moment happens that paints a clear picture. You’ve been in the art industry for such a long time now but when did your “defining moment” happen for you to choose this path?
I don’t know if I have a defining moment but I’ve probably had dozens & dozens of them because when I started it was really through graffiti culture and my interaction with the hip hop culture at the time which was the early Youth movement. But in South Africa that was quite cross-cultural and it also facilitated me to explore different neighborhoods and interact with like some of the artists from like Mitchells Plain, Gugulethu, and Johannesburg too… So for me, it was really such an educational process of getting to know my country and the real issues that I faced, the real day-to-day lives, and when your painting a piece on the street corner for like a few days in different neighborhoods it’s transformative… So I’m grateful and lucky to have that experience as a white South African. I started painting in like ’97 and it was just kind of a way for me to challenge the norms of what I saw around me.
Woah, what was crazy to find out was the fact that you started within graffiti culture and over the years your artistry has evolved becoming its own living entity. What would you say is the purpose of the art that you make?
Yeah, I’ve always been interested in the human condition, so that can be like dealing with the issues of ecology and sustainability, the way that we live as a society which can involve things like racism and politics of the time in the country that you live in. I’m also interested in the human experience, it’s actually quite a personal experience that we all are having so I think in the beginning it was a lot more overt, I was interest in like the outward expression of that but as I traveled so much and I guess also grew up, I was just kind of interested in depth psychology, wholeness and finding a kind of inner peace that can facilitate your outa peace and the way you are with others. I do think that my work hopefully explores those narratives that can resonate with other people and their process you know? There’s a lot more work to be done.
Wow… Uhm let’s touch on challenges a bit, I imagine when you were growing up you might have come across some tough moments during what you were working towards at that time. What have been some of the challenges you’ve had to face in your journey that has helped define the type of artist or person you are today?
I think when you make work in the public sphere, which is something that I have done quite a lot of, you have to sometimes question yourself and you know, get feedback [Laughs] So that’s something that you need to be open to and to sometimes take it & change from that. So I’ve had some of that and there’s not a lot of women really doing that kind of work and for me, it’s quite important to have mentors to look up to for myself. And I would love to also be able to impart some of that inspiration and knowledge down to others so I do find that quite important… And even with this Hennessy project, one of the most exciting things about it for me is that not only do I love all the artists who are in this lineage but I’m the first female on that line-up.
Yeah, I was about to say that I feel this was long overdue [Laughs] And it is crazy that you are the first female artist to work with Henessy like this but I also want to touch on the project too… We tend to hear about what the artists can do design/aesthetic wise with the bottle & ultimately the presented collaboration, did you also gain some sort of growth personally while you were working on it though?
Yes, I think collaboration is the keyword here because a true collaboration is one where you are given a lot of freedom to really do your own work, and its something where both parties can kind of enhance the motivation… So the work I did was very inline with some of the work I’ve been thinking of working on anyway, something I want to work more on in the future which is kind of inspired by this kind of eastern and western esoteric time graphs and alchemical scripts, just taking it back to just this real ancient connection to nature and to stop this thinking of ourselves from the natural world. I think a lot of issues we have in society are because we don’t have a connection to the food we eat or the land we live on and this kind of lack of respect for nature is very self-destructive at the end of the day. So I found within Hennessy’s process and visiting them, that they still have a very time held traditional craft approach with things like seasonal changes and I found my connection to my work in that interpretation.
So would you say that the process of working on this collab was seamless and simple to start?
Yeah exactly, I think it was actually quite seamless for me because I found that thread you know? And I think that’s the best kind of collaboration because I’m at a point in my career where if I’m working with a brand or a collaborator it needs to be authentic to my process. So it worked out well.
“You could say Hennessy Very Special and I share a kind of alchemy: in a way, we both take basic elements and use them to craft something extraordinary.” – Faith XLVII
Final question; you know these days we’re all locked up in our homes because the World has been put on a standstill but here you are finding inspiration to continue doing what you do. What would you say is the role that an artist plays during such an uninspiring time such as this? A role that could help inspire people in general…
Yeah, this year has definitely been extremely challenging for everyone and I think your question about the artist’s role is more of a general question for everyone really… Doing some self-reflection and you know, we’re born into a society that, first of all, inherited a lot of baggage from the past of our forefathers that we need to take on, whether that’s race or gender or social conditions your know? In whatever the country you live in and I think we need to navigate that, we need to interrogate it, we need to be honest & humble about it and also need to really feel the emotion… Be angry, be sad, be honest in your interpretation, and also just do your own inner work. I think this time is a really good time for us to do that and hopefully by doing that we can come out of it and just be a bit more relatable to each other, what’s going on around us and be able to make decisions that are good for ourselves, career, those around us and thinking a bit communally you know? I hope so anyway.
Okay, final, final question… As a young kid trying to find the artist within themselves, what sort of advice could you give to that kid trying to follow your footsteps?
Well its kind of related to the previous question, really just having a real deep look at your identity and also stripping that identity a bit and finding you core essence that you can work from. And then you know working hard… It takes a long time to perfect a craft, you’ve got to be diligent, study, and never stop studying. See your work as part of your life evolution, for me my work is kind of like a practice you know? It’s not separate from my life, I don’t go to work and come back. Everything I’m reading, watching, or doing is relatable to the work I make. So think about having a kind of a holistic approach to what you eat, how you live, who you spend your time with, and stuff like that.