Joburg by night – what the Randlords saw

Back in this rainy town with its broody leaden skies after weeks away. It’s good to be home. I had forgotten to post this pretty photo taken from Randlords (the uber chic nightclub) in Braamfontein sometime in early December. I wasn’t the one to snap it (the Randlords gig was invitation-only and I had no intention of pretending to be older than I already am just to crack the Greenside High School 25-year matric reunion.) Continue reading

Public art in Joburg/the world comes to Sandton

Marcus Neustetter's "Erosion"

Go to Sandton Square for the Public Art around the World exhibition. On Tuesday night on a corner of Sandton – called Burghers Walk – I was last at during the height of World Cup fever I witnessed an extraordinary performance by Marcus Neustetter. Titled “Erosion” it involved thousands of brilliantly-lit neon glowsticks being thrown down a stairway in the darkness by a troupe of performers dressed in workman’s overalls who then proceeded to sweep up every last brilliant piece of light, bundling them back into trashcans to be carried off. A comment on the fragility and impermanence of the world of imagination and dreams, Continue reading

Braamfontein’s 70 Juta Street and Pieter Hugo

Protea wallpaper

Protea wallpaper

#216. Saturday morning in brilliant sunshine we took a walk along the hip stretch of Juta Street in Braamfontein. Braamfontein’s re-imagining is more than talk and the colourful little complex of stores and offices on 70 Juta Street bears this out [It officially opened last weekend]. We started off at POST for their homemade lemonade and a tasty snack-sized prego roll. With its glass front POST is a perfect spot to sip something while observing street life (in this city of malls and walls that’s a luxury). Continue reading

Joburg master class with David Goldblatt and Ivan Vladislavic

#215. Explore the double negative. I spent last Saturday at the Goodman Gallery listening to Ivan Vladislavic and David Goldblatt in conversation about their limited double edition [TJ and Double Negative] with the delightful Marlene van Niekerk [author of the award-winning Triomf and Agaat] who had been coaxed from Stellenbosch to speak with the “masters of Joburg”. Both of whom, in her words, have a commitment to the “the reductive mysteries of things as they are”. Warm, full of wit and nuance, the conversation took some interesting turns Continue reading

The Angel of Hillbrow

#171. Admire the angel and say that if any place needs one it’s Hillbrow.

Hillbrow's angel

Perched up high between Constitution Hill and one of Joburg’s most talked about suburbs the angel is one of a number of public artworks that have sprung up around the inner city. Part of the city of Johannesburg’s public art policy, officials have been hard at work commissioning artists to create pieces that are redefining the city as an inclusive space.

As for Hillbrow, it’s a place that conjures nostalgic, that calls up myths and legends. From the post-1994 hard drug scene that sprang up around the Sands Hotel to the playground of SA’s original party girl Brenda Fassie, Hillbrow was also home to my grandmother and a great-aunt (a lot earlier than that) who lived in the Coronia residential hotel in the late 1970’s (Now it’s a disco, but not for Lola …). Tropicana or was it Tropica sold the best schwarmas in town (It was the wrap) while Estoril had the monopoly on Italian fashion magazines. At Café Paris the men smoked and played backgammon and in the late 80’s Fontana would sell you roast chicken no matter the hour. Hillbrow was the height of cool. All bright lights and big-city like. Continue reading

Goodbye Top Star, Hello Alberton

#153. Watch Times photographer Marianne Schwankhart’s farewell to one of Johannesburg’s best known landmarks – The Top Star Drive-In. While the Top Star hasn’t operated for the past four years it will be the end of an era when you drive around the city centre from the east and don’t see that enormous movie screen rising above you on one of the city’s mine dumps.


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Are we safe?

#152. Wonder whether walls make us safer? This after 24 hours in which I attended a community meeting with a security company in my area and then spent yesterday at a seminar called cracking walls at the Goethe Institute in Parkwood, Johannesburg. The Goethe is thinking a lot about cracking walls, what with the 20th anniversary of the “fall” of the Berlin Wall approaching, and now so am I. Continue reading

Joburg becomes art city this weekend

# 151. Follow the Spring Art Tour now at a gallery near you. Four days of contemporary art and design, walkabouts with artists, talks and white wine (usually cheap but purposeful) kick off tomorrow night. Continue reading

So who is Johannes?

#143. Get some answers. On Saturday I was at Origins Museum at Wits (not a striking student to be seen) to listen to a discussion on Johannesburg/Kolkata, as part of a series of events that are linked to Words on Water, a South Africa-India Literary Festival. The discussion on Johannesburg prompted the question: Who is Johannes?
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Google takes to the streets

#140. Follow that car. No sooner had I read the post about “Google sends out cars for Street View SA” on Matthew Buckland’s blog then I looked ahead of me as a car pulled away from the robot and saw it was a Toyota Prius with a camera mounted on top of it. Either its Google or the CIA is being very conspicuous about their monitoring of Joburg’s leafier suburbs. Continue reading