It takes a foreign sensibility to see Joburg’s suburban streets with new eyes. And I highly recommend it. On Friday morning we joined artists Susanne Kudielka and Kaspar Wimberley for a walk through Parkwood. Not your average walk, as we were encased in a cardboard Volkswagen Citi Golf. The two Stuttgart-based artists have been working as “artists-in-residence” at the Goethe-Institut for the past six weeks. They arrived in Joburg intending to look at the theme of security.
From beaded guard dogs to the fake ivy that doubles up as vicious spikes on suburb walls, they spent their time taking in the many ways and aesthetics in which people in this city protect their homes from outside invasion. Whether the threat is real or imagined…
So there I was travelling the highways and byways of the city in a big red open-top double decker bus, making good on Alain de Boton’s declaration that “The pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to.” I felt like a tourist, even without the uniform of sandals-and-socks and a giant Nikon camera, or its modern incarnation that involves pointing an iPad at some unfortunate local.
City Sightseeing Hop-on Hop-off Bus launches in Johannesburg
Sunday morning and a long overdue celebration of Paul Ballen’s Homemade Ice Cream and Waffle Day. So good it deserves its own Day. @paul_ballen is one of those Joburg individuals I thank twitter for. I have even ordered his homemade ice-cream over that channel. It was months ago and I got a home delivery of 1 litre of Vietnamese coffee and another of Maple Syrup and Caramelized Pecan. Truly delicious. This morning we headed for Saxonwold and a Breakfast of Champions – a homemade waffle with a dollop of creamy and smooth peanut butter ice cream.
After two weeks of watching Joburg go to war about a piece of art that started as a spear and then became a fear-inducing smear I am delighted to announce that Nando’s latest campaign has managed to lift the gloom.
I love this ad that tackles one of South Africa’s saddest darkest and twisty-est predilections – xenophobia.
It was shared by one of my favourite organisations Cheesekids for Humanity – led by the “grand fromage” Shaka Sisulu – who have teamed up with the chicken brand for their latest campaign. Continue reading →
Boys with clutch bags, lots of fiery red chic bobs and dresses cut to way up to there with heels to match signalled the opening of SA Fashion Week – and that’s just the scene in the lobby of The Rosebank Crowne Plaza, the site of Joburg’s real fashion week. And phones, darling, lots and lots of smartphones, snapping photos, texting, tweeting, waving in the air, videoing the shows, easing social awkwardness, amusing people during the long wait for it all to start and shining out in the darkness. I tried to remember what we all did before we had them – and recalled smoking Camel filters. Still haven’t decided which would be the healthier habit. Continue reading →
Artist Hermann Niebuhr’s Johannesburg is many cities. All of them familiar, but each distinctive in its difference.
At his Fordsburg studio, the more than 30 versions hang in one room, a dizzying display of colour and light. There are cityscapes, and the traces of cityscapes, geometric lines that compose Johannesburg’s most famous landmarks and that, on closer inspection, fracture and break apart. In each the sky and city are entangled, the light washing over the buildings warming the city or darkening it, making it appear in turns welcoming, and then coldly foreboding, making it appear real.
For Johannesburg is in some ways an unknowable city, a city of concealment, and of surprises, where hipsters rub shoulders with church prophets and you can find a sheep’s head as easily as you can a pair of Italian brogues. Surfaces are only to be taken for the whole at your own peril. Continue reading →
Like all true love stories this one has moments of exhilaration, and of defeat. In pursuit of a romantic ideal one must be prepared as much for pure joy as for its opposite.
Along Bezuidenhout street, where it meets Viljoen in the park below Troyeville ridge is a bed. Its plush studded headboard is the stuff that Joburg migrant dreams are made of, Beares catalogues and lay-byes. Its pillows have the texture of velvet and on it lays a duvet, creased as if the bed’s occupants had just arisen from their slumber.
The bed is inviting.
On the morning I visit two birds are using the folds of the duvet as a birdbath. The park is green, the bed resting in peaceful shade. Continue reading →
Thursday night we headed north to that weird Montecasino (where the sky is always blue no matter when the sun sets, and those cobblestones make enemies out of great heels) for the premiere of Material, the movie that made Barry Ronge cry and that has people declaring that we finally have a local film with the potential to rival a Leon Schuster blockbuster at the box office.