American rapper P Diddy looks at a sculpture by Haroon Gunn-Salie on forced removals and land, which he has bought for his home.

Cape Town - A sculpture by young artist Haroon Gunn-Salie on forced removals from District Six has been bought by American rapper Sean Combs, known as P Diddy, at the ArtBasel MiamiBeach exhibition in Miami.

“I’m told he is not going to put it in his art collection but he is going to put it on a wall inside his house, which I think is great,” said Gunn-Salie, 24, from Athlone.

He felt inspired that a sculpture of his has sold abroad.

“This means a lot to me. I mean, P Diddy is the idol of all hip-hop fans. This means there is a market for artwork of this nature,’” said Gunn-Salie.

His graduate exhibition in his BA Fine Arts honours degree last year was entitled Witness, a site-specific, dialogical artwork installed in a derelict house in District Six.

One of the pieces in that exhibition, a triptych of mirrors emblazoned with “Turn the other way”, based on the life story of a resident forcibly removed from District Six and who told her story as part of the exhibition, was bought by P Diddy for $3 000 (R31 050).

Gunn-Salie’s artwork was put on exhibition in America by the Goodman Gallery, which represents him.

“The gallery told me P Diddy was completely bowled over by the piece and said he had to have it for his home. It symbolised apartheid.

“The piece asks viewers to consider their own role in the devastation of District Six that began in the 1960s, and the ongoing conflicts over the land on which it once stood.”

Gunn-Salie’s collaborative art practice translates community oral histories into artistic interventions and experiential installations. The artist’s multi-disciplinary practice focuses on forms of collaboration in contemporary art based on dialogue and exchange.

”I think we did well to make a fair reflection of District Six,” he said.

Gunn-Salie has staged a few exhibitions this year, including The Three Abdullahs, at UCT, in which he dealt with the life and times of the anti-apartheid activist killed in police detention in 1969, Imam Abdullah Haron, after whom he is named.

Next he is part of a group exhibition opening on Saturday at the Goodman Gallery at 176 Sir Lowry Road in Woodstock.

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Cape Times