The rumours are indeed true. For years the Back to the City Festival held each year on Freedom Day in Newtown has been granted mythical status by me – I have heard about the huge crowds, the graffiti artists who take over the pillars under the M1 bridge for the event, the music, the style fest. This year it was time to try it out. Billed as the biggest hip hop gathering in Africa, Back To the City doesn’t disappoint… Continue reading
Mars is a Joburg icon. Drive around Newtown, Fordsburg, and along Barry Hertzog Ave and you’ll see his telltale signs. The 25-year-old graffiti artist has pretty much made his mark across the city. This week his exhibition From The Ground Up is on at Two By Two Gallery in Newtown. It’s definitely worth seeing. Before Instagram and inner city gentrification there was Graffiti and with it came the mingling of exhaust and paint fumes, the scraping away of rot and unearthing urine-stained sidewalk weeds for the perfect spot. There was finding the best wall and owning it, but most of all burning the rest. This is graffiti and it all started from the ground up.”
This is the story of #Mars… Continue reading
Sunday morning in Newtown. We joined the lovely Jo Buitendach from Past Experiences, the original city walking tour company for a graffiti walk. Jo’s in the process of writing her M.A. thesis focusing on the heritage value of graffiti in Newtown. Hopefully it will end up as a book. She has an anthropological take likening it to early human’s need for self-expression once realised in rock art.
If we started out by apprehending what we see in the media through Kudzanai Chiurai’s 16SNLV, rather than the other way around, I think we would better grasp the nature of a violence-soaked world. With his latest work the artist disrupts the steady stream of graphically violent images and descriptions all around us, poking a sharp stick into how society increasingly shuts down in response to public violence.
To launch Joburg’s inner-city festival coming up in August, the Joburg City Tourism Association threw a three-day party for 60 journalists. I was lucky enough to be on that list and to spend the weekend hanging out at some of the coolest places…. Friday night in Joburg city centre and what could have been a regular few blocks walk between Market and Loveday Streets on a chill Autumn night turned into something extraordinary. On the pavement outside the impressive Edwardian-style entrance to the Rand Club, the city’s grandest landmark, thirty four members of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra were arrayed, flash-mob style – playing classical and popular pieces. Continue reading
Anthea Pokroy collects gingers. When I hear that I imagine her standing up at a support meeting, guiltily surveying the room, and then confessing. I also am mildly reassured. Though not a collector, I am a ginger, and find myself drawn to other redheads, unusually interested in characters like Homeland’s Damian Lewis, Desperate Housewives “Bree Van de Kamp”, News International’s Rebekah Brooks and now in Pokroy.
It appears that once you start, there is no holding back. In just over two years Pokroy collected more than 500 gingers, photographing each one of them. Her solo exhibition “I collect gingers” opened in January, a series of portraits presented in 10 “hair groups” – a spectrum from strawberry blond to dark auburn cross-referenced against skin and eye colour. The groups constitute a racial classification invented by the artist, with sub-classifications. “It’s human nature to create hierarchies, but I haven’t suggested who is the low – I wanted the viewer to impose that,” says Pokroy. Continue reading
The photographs make you look twice. First because they are pretty, stylized shots, speaking the language of fashion photography, and then again because of their setting.
Pimville, Kliptown and Orlando in Soweto, Alexandra are not usually names that conjure the hipster lifestyle, freedom, beauty, or high fashion. Continue reading
Sunday morning in Maboneng – Joburg’s hipster haven on the east side of the city. Urban regeneration comes in the form of a peanut, banana, date and soya milk smoothie. Maboneng has arrived. What could have been a fantasy is now a high-priced and much in demand reality.
And outside Uncle Merv’s shake shack our little crew is getting bigger. It could be the start of a joke… One editor, one photographer, one blogger and two tour guides meet over a smoothie to wait for Rasty…
Taking a walk in Joburg’s inner-city city may just surprise you for all the right reasons… [The brilliant photos are by Wesley Poon]
Ask anyone who lives here to describe the city of Joburg and they rarely extol its beauty. Mostly they point out it’s a city without a sea and until the Nelson Mandela Bridge it was a city without any remarkable landmarks that aren’t communication towers or apartment blocks. And those are the polite remarks.
Over the past five years, it’s a little known fact that the city has installed an impressive and growing number of public artworks – at last count at more than 50 sites. In 2006 a strategy was put in place to use public art as a way of fulfilling a range of Joburg’s developing needs. It called for a public art levy, a common global practice, that would devote up to one percent of the construction budget on major city building projects to this end. This was implemented by the Johannesburg Development Agency at a time when the city has been undergoing something of a boom, and it will continue.