We are on Yeoville’s Raleigh Street at Kin Malebo Village. The doorman greets us in French. The rhythms of Congolese singer Fally Ipupa’s “Bicarbonate” escape the bar into the crisp winter night, as the door swings open. Inside it’s warm and inviting. Continue reading
After a two month hiatus spent in my study (and a number of free WIFI-enabled coffee shops across the city including my current favourite Warm & Glad, on 357 Jan Smuts Avenue) finishing my M.A. dissertation, I have been released to feast on the city. Oh how I have missed that. On Saturday we took a walk with Bongani Mathebula from MainStreetWalks to view the murals that form part of the IARTJOBURG project, a brilliant initiative by Ricky Lee Gordon of /and people (love their work), adidas Originals and Plascon.
Here’s the story…
If you go down to Doornfontein today you are in for a big surprise. Look up along Sivewright Avenue as you travel in the direction of Yeoville and there hanging on the wall of an otherwise ordinary commercial face brick block is an elephant, a rhinoceros, a giraffe and three other wild creatures. They appear to be lying across the reinforced concrete beams, their limbs hang limply, and their eyes are closed. Asleep, or extinct, the artist has left it up to you to decide.
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
#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.
194#. Read the New York Times on Braamfontein. The paper of record has called it. Braamfontein is Joburg’s version of New York’s Soho. It has urban edge, lots of design and artistic talent, and a property developer with a real eye for the city’s future. Personally I have always been fond of that neighbourhood, from student days in the early 1990s when I would spend most of my cash (and there wasn’t much of it) at the bookshop on the corner where the Braamfontein Centre now stands (looking back it was literature of the revolution – lots of Fanon, Cabral, Biko. Okay admittedly those were books that real revolutionaries would steal so this is a revealing moment) to cheap and tasty lunches at the Health Scene and a great little Italian joint whose name I don’t recall but whose veal limone I do. Continue reading
#118. Celebrate what’s good about this city. And there’s lots. On Thursday night I was at Constitution Hill’s Round House toasting Joburg’s inner-city developments. The Halala Awards were started by the Johannesburg Development Agency last year to reward the brave who have ventured where most people fear to tread – town. Not only have they ventured, they have also put money into developing oases of calm in a city, that as Ruby Matang, a Johannesburg city councillor put it, “oscillates between decline and vibrancy”. Continue reading
#5: Find the new Bohemia. In the July edition of Vanity Fair Christopher Hitchens has written a piece entitled “Last Call, Bohemia” in which he says that every successful society needs its Bohemia — a haven for artists, thinkers, professional soaks, bibliophiles and book stores, exiles, poets, ladies of easy virtue and the men who need them, deviants and misfits, insomniacs and the restaurants or bars that are always ready to serve them. Every successful society requires a part of a city that is home to the people “who regenerate its culture”.
In the late 70’s and early 1980’s Hillbrow was that place Continue reading