Getting shot in Joburg

Ponte, by "I was shot in Joburg"

It sounds like a Hollywood script. A Joburg architect on holiday in Cape Town commits a misdemeanour and gets sentenced to three months community service. Not wanting to have to return to Cape Town he proposes to the court that he contribute to a community closer to home. He comes up with the idea to work with a children’s shelter to train youngsters in how to take photographs with disposable cameras. The plan is to work towards an exhibition of their work after three months. “All I wanted was to give them a night they would never forget,” says 35-year-old Bernard Viljoen.

Cue the scene of the judge stamping “accepted” on the proposal. That was the start of the project called “I was shot in Joburg”.  Now two years later an end to Viljoen’s  “community service” is nowhere in sight. When I contact him for an interview after buying one of the project’s photographs at Market on Main, in Joburg inner city’s Maboneng District, he is on his way to Cape Town to launch “I was shot in Cape Town”. Bloemfontein is next. Continue reading

Waking up in Braamfontein – Hotel Lamunu and the NeighbourGoods Market

I’m calling it. All that energy and moolah invested in Braamfontein got a little closer to paying off this morning with the opening of Cape Town’s favourite Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein. But before I talk about that let’s rewind… The week stared with an invitation from Southpoint Hospitality for an overnight stay at its Hotel Lamunu in Braamfontein. The plan was to spend the night at the hotel, with drinks at the bar, dinner at Ramen, breakfast at the hotel followed by coffee at Velo in The Grove Square (on Melle Street) opposite the hotel and finally… a visit to opening day of the Neighbourgoods market (one of my favourite Cape Town haunts).


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Joburg photographer Jodi Bieber, top World Press Photo award-winner

“Once you put your work out there you can’t control how people respond, but you want a response.” Tuesday night we were listening to Jodi Bieber (no relation of Justin) talk about her photography at Vega’s Johannesburg Campus. Having just won one of photojournalism’s highest honours – the World Press Photo of the Year Award – seems to have left her largely unaffected. Proud of the achievement and the global focus that it has put on the plight of women under Taliban rule in Afghanistan she spent less time on the award than she did on talking about her personal portfolio of work, all set in South Africa. Continue reading

Attend the Design Indaba in Johannesburg

Get excited about this year’s Design Indaba as Cape Town’s premier event will be in Joburg next week. With the main conference sold out in CT the organisers have come up with simulcast events in both cities. I am planning to attend DI2011: A Better World Through Creativity, at the Arts Centre Theatre of the University of Johannesburg, Kingsway Campus, for the three-day programme starting Wednesday next week.

I have been to the Design Indaba Expo a few times and last attended Design Indaba on its 10th anniversary in 2007. Then I was watching a presentation on Germany’s World Cup Fan Fests and trying to imagine what World Cup 2010 would be like. Done that!

I am a huge fan of this event that brings together an incredible array of creative minds to share their experiences and inspiring works. It’s the South African equivalent of TED, just a whole lot more stylish. In 2007 my favourite presenters included Professor Neil Gershenfeld, Director of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (just the name of that centre would have been enough) who spoke about small-scale project centres that enabled people from severely un-advantaged communities to take part in creating technology and not just consuming it. It was brought together under the idea of “personalising fabrication”  – that if you give ordinary people access to modern means of invention – a lab – you get extraordinary things. Continue reading

A tour of Park Station, a Joburg landmark

Take a walk around Park Station and its surrounds with the Heritage Trust [planned for Saturday, February 19]. This is one I will be sorry to miss (I have a weekend out of town planned). The first time I ever went to Park Station it was by train from Benoni and I was about 14 years old and addicted to the hippie chic of the Market Theatre Flea Market which used to be the best way to spend time and pocket money in the [early, ouch] 1980s. Then it sprawled across the parking lot that is now Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, and was filled with all sorts of treasures and delights [admittedly looking back it was more like knick-knacks and tat]. Continue reading

Sandton’s World Cup fever

#206 Nothing to do in Joburg besides become a fan – of football, Bafana Bafana, the diski, the flag, the colours, the people, the spirit, the music and even the vuvuzela (I have my earplugs ready for the opening game at Soccer City tomorrow night). It’s hard not to. Yesterday in Sandton the streets filled with thousands (they say around 185 000 to be more precise) — and even the actuaries and accountants and a few oddly dressed people that could only have come from some corporate IT department joined the throngs Continue reading

Hotel Yeoville, a digital space to call home

#202 Check in to Hotel Yeoville. I spent Saturday morning at Hotel Yeoville, one of the most exciting interactive exhibitions I have seen. Hotel Yeoville is the brainchild of photographer and artist Terry Kurgan who has for the past three years championed this project to as she puts it to “make the invisible community visible”. Its aim is to create a social map of the migrant or immigrant experience of Johannesburg – to track the experiences of those who have travelled from all over and now call Joburg home. Ironically home is not always a refuge – and the exhibition uses popular social media technologies to create safe spaces in which the complex emotions people have about home can be articulated and shared.

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FIFA 2010 official art posters

#182. Think of covering the walls with some highly covetable posters. To mark the (dare I say it – FIFA, don’t shoot) World Cup in South Africa in 2010 (there it’s out and so far the use of those words together in one sentence has brought me neither a lightning bolt nor an ominous knock at the door. In fact those German Shepherds barking are mine) a number of local and international artists were commissioned to produce some truly gorgeous works of art. An official Art Posters Edition series that “celebrates and pays homage to the beautiful game“.

The Good Game, Hassan Musa


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Is London ready for the 2012 Olympics

#31. Nothing to do in Joburg besides… go to London for a few days, and post my blog from the Apple store in Regent Street (which by the way is busier on an average day than Hyde Park Exclusive Book’s opening sale day — with broadband the norm rather than the exception the Apple store has replaced the “internet cafe”).  

Well the first part is not strictly true, there is plenty to do in Joburg but London was calling. We landed at Heathrow at 6.30am (early), spent 30 minutes waiting for permission to exit the plane and another 25 having our passports stamped and then one hour waiting for baggage at the carousel. To which my ever-ready-with-a-quip assistant responded: “Do you think London is ready for 2012?”. Continue reading