Most of my installation work, works on paper and paintings too are never really meant to be kept as precious objects. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I’m drawn to sound. Sounds come and go. Who cares? Nevertheless, I do write about my work and have long been an advocate for documenting these “experiences” for some time now. Some of my installations I remember quite fondly, such as The Record Shop. As you would expect, nothing exists to remember it by. No video, photographs or recordings yet I recently came across a piece in which I wrote about it in passing:
The city we look for is undoubtedly the city we shall find. Seeing our city in a new light is therefore a blinding task without re-examining our eyes position in relation to the source from which the light illuminates. Language’s limits are exposed though the words that can never seem to satisfy our need for an adequate description of urban perpetuity and this is at the root of our undetermined dilemma of city life. This concrete mass rejects any attempts of being totalized or presenting itself as a knowable entity. It is intangible through views obscured by glass curtains hazy, from everyday smoking. It deceives, misinforms and confuses. Herein, images replaced reality neighbors are complete strangers and the past has collapsed into the passions of progress. It even becomes possible to not exist at all, subsumed, submerged and sunken into an infinite depth of our own creation. In trying to get a complete view a street corner in Johannesburg we are left with only a minute fragment of an ever-changing steam of seeing, sound and sensations. It is a place full of strange contradictions, unusual juxtapositions that disturb us from the comfort of what is known, ever-changing and “always ahead.of the knowledge produced about [it].” Instead today’s cities of being “centers,” “locations” or “places,” they now . have a far more dissolved and disbanded disposition. Eric Lampard takes note of this trend first noticed by urbanists in the 70’s
“the population was restlessly spreading out via superhighways and freeways into “defensible” low residential space…graded by socioeconomic class age and affinity. Between these extensive and more exclusive residential turfs were placed the “metrocentres, ” or intervening clusters of common facilities containing shopping plazas, motels, cinemas, automobile service stations, and repair shops, apartment blocks, gallery-museums, multi-purpose health spas, and schools of continuing education etc. These [ are known as] multicentered “urban fields” or urban regions. ”
Lampard proposes three major causes for the “urban crisis” first taken note of in the early sixties: “the automobile, affluence and racism.” Any sense of belonging to this place is being lost through our inability to decipher these doldrums as the “Legibility” of the metropolis diminished over time. As opposed to the cities of the past, reading the “illegible” urban environment of i_s the predominating factor in how we choose to interpret it. “As opposed to the divinely ordered ‘New Jerusalem’ that St. John ‘reads’ in his Revelation, we are much more likely to confront urban landscape that reads like subway graffiti that defaces our public building and monuments.” This indecipherable environment and our inability to define it in any concrete terms is what epitomizes today’s urban experience. Sharpe and Wallock refer to Structure Sign and Play in the Discourse of Humanity (1966) by Jacques Derrida suggesting that
“like language the city is a system of signification dependant on certain fixed relations and shared values for its comprehensibility or ‘interpretations. ‘” Hereby Dirrida ‘s text describes the “urban crisis” (perhaps subconsciously) ” … if totalization no longer has any meaning it is not because the infinity of the field cannot be covered by a finite glance or a finite discourse, but because the nature of the field -that is language and finite language – excludes totalization … instead of being too large, there is something missing: a centre which arrests and found the freeplay of substitutions. ”
In his essay Reading the Illegible, some modern representations of urban experience, Steven Marcus draws reference to Saul Bellow and his account of New York that suggests this chaotic state of modem cities
” … in any big city and especially New York – the end of the world, with its complexity and machinery, bricks and tubes, wires and stones, holes and heights. And was everybody crazy here? What sort of people did you see here? Every other man spoke a language entirely his own, which he had figured out by private thinking … You were even lucky to be understood and this happened over and over and over again with everyone you met. You had to translate and translate, explain and explain back and forth and it was the punishment of hell itself not to understand or be understood, not to know the crazy from the sane, the wise from the fools, the sick from the well. The fathers were no fathers and the sons were no sons. You had to talk to yourself during the daytime and reason with yourself at night. Who else was there to talk to in a city like New York?”
It is the hopes of this research paper to further investigate this paradox of urban life, speaking from and through the intersection between Jorissen and Bertha Street (university comer). Drawing from a variety of sources local and global this paper will ultimately discuss and reveal parallel concerns that will destabilize the notion of an “isolated” African metropolis distant and disassociated from the global metropolitan attitude. As much as this street comer is “unique” in that it occupies a specific space, it can easily stand for any other street corner or any other intersection throughout the rest of the world. With this in mind, I will be making two sets of comparisons. The first will put side by side David Goldblatt’ s Intersection series to Scents of the City by Naegele and Baur. In the second, The Record Shop and Jungle Sculpture will face off against selected works by Dieter Roth (Garden Sculpture and Flat Garbage). The methods that these artists/researchers share are strangely similar. It is through these methods and the research area that they concern themselves with that this paper wishes to tease out the implications of working in such modes.
In the first case, Intersections is a good example of the advantages and disadvantages of photography for the use of visual research. Initially intended to document the landscape of South Africa by documenting its 122 intersecting cardinal points, Goldblatt soon got bored with the predictability of the entire project even though he never knew what he would find looking for the exact location of a specific position on a map. He therefore expanded his interpretation of the theme somewhat. Along with referring to the intersection of imaginary lines he searched for the intersecting of a diverse group concerns, the crossing over of ideas, cultures, customs traditions, beliefs etc. This led him to a far richer field of exploration. To understand the downfalls and advantages of these projects, it is useful to refer to chapter two of Researching the Visual by Michael Emmison and Philip Smith. Here Emmison and Smith propose that photography can be used in many ways for understanding society and interrogate the various research methods that have recently come to the fore in this field. These include the use of photography as interview stimuli, content analysis of naive photographs, native image making, the scientific and the
narrative mode. Drawn from Wagner’s 1979 essay Image and Information: Still Photography and the Social Sciences, these methods allow for some of the downfalls of the photographic method to be somewhat overcome. Intersections and Scents of a city both fall into the final category: the scientific and narrative mode. In this area of sociological research, the photograph of a building (university corner) or documentation of life within this building can be used to make inferences about what kind of people use the space and how they feel using it in the way that they do. More often than not, in research of this kind, the idea of an “objective study” seems to be the most problematic of all factors: As both projects present themselves to us in the book format, they both have the potential of catalogue for an exhibition or a handbook for sociological inquiry. In this case, the photograph occupies simultaneous positions as art and as a tool for sociological examination. The photograph of Bree street for example that appeared in the previous issue of Art South Africa can be seen as having both the aesthetic appeal of an artwork but also reveals the conditions and encounters of living in the city. However, it is not as if Goldblatt is not aware of this dualistic restriction on his work. On the one hand, the prerequisite of documentation is to deliver a truthful and untainted account of a specific event or phenomenon and on the other hand, artists are seen to have the freedom to communicate a set of views, opinions or perspectives through their medium, be it drawing, painting, sculpture or photography. Certainly, in the case of Goldblatt, Naegele and Baur, the images that they take are always constructed though the lens of the photographer’s eye before it is captured though the camera’s lens. The question is of what significance is this to the study that the two projects undertake. In both cases, it seems, the photographers in question are aware of this so-called shortcoming. Both projects seem to evade the “downfall” of looking though a first set of lenses by acknowledging their existence. In Goldblatt’s case, he chooses to document the crossing over between abstract concepts which allows the viewer to form their own interpretation of these concepts through the photograph. He never defines these concepts clearly and in so doing allows the viewer to find them for themselves. An obsessive body of documentation of multitude of phenomena from a variety of cities, the book is fixated on putting, at times unrelated, phenomena into various groupings to suggest new relationships and meanings that could be inherent in them. In doing so, the categories are most scientifically scrutinized, alphabetized and catalogued. What makes it obviously unscientific however is the type of categories that exist. In most cases, they are abstract and imply an unscientific intelligibility of the specific item/sand always make reference to society as a whole. Both books can be seen to reinforce the idea that the city is a dislocated and decentered environment. Goldblatt does so by suggesting that the same concerns evident in a piece of open field are inherited by the urban field whereas Naegele and Baur suggest that all urban spaces are uncannily similar – evidence that within a collective urban consciousness with the multitude of different metropolitan trajectories, exist a shared and singular life force. There is no doubt that the two photographic projects prove that fact is far stranger than fiction and that the anonymity of metropolitan life is a fallacy. Our every movement, from the slightest gesture to our daily transversals between different spaces link us inextricably to our immediate and far flung neighbors.
No man is an island and in Johannesburg like many other cities around the world, the rich can never completely disassociate themselves from the poor and the poor can only be marginalized up to a certain point. Both of the above-mentioned photographic studies are useful devices for charting our affiliation to the site/s that they question in that they capture a precise moment, a fragment of an ever-flowing urbanity. However, as this research developed and evolved, it has moved more and more away from photographic documentation into the field of three-dimensional visual research. Objects of course allow for many of the same inferences to be made about their owners or users as images do. They exhibit a significant importance when trying to examine culture, knowledge beliefs and ideology within society. In many ways it was Roland Barthes work that made this frontier of exploration possible. Barthes suggested that images work as signifiers that can be decoded to reveal hidden messages that the image contain. In moving forward from using this analogy to decode only advertisements, paintings or other two-dimensional images, his writing on the then new CitroenDS, opened new avenues for the exploration of meaning using objects from everyday life. The Citroen’s bulky and progressive exterior symbolized valor and sophistication coupled with an interior that resembled a modern kitchen of the time. This was an overt assertion of elite bourgeois idealism and taste. Each object is inherently tied to the ideals, beliefs, knowledge and culture in which it is situated. Therefore, far from being disassociated with its environment, becomes a reflection thereof, a reaction to an action and a marker of a specific presence.
To make evident some of the advantages of objects in the examination of the street corner, it is useful to have a good understanding of how they are classified. Harold Riggin’s model is quite helpful in this respect. Riggins proposes two umbrella categories: intrinsically active and intrinsically passive objects. Intrinsically active objects are functional and are intended to be “handled” such as a spoon. Intrinsically passive objects are not intended for any specific use such as a sculpture, they are not “handled” in the same sense as intrinsically active objects are. These are by no means fixed categories and some objects occupy a space in each of the two boxes. Something like a swimming pool can be used to swim in but also has a decorative purpose, a mirror can be used for decorating a room giving a room a greater sense of depth but is also used to straighten one’s tie and brush one’s hair in the mornings. Furthermore, some objects can be appropriated from one category into the next, like an upside-down umbrella hung under a suspended pot plant to prevent water from dripping on the floor underneath it. These objects can be defined in terms of normal or alien use.
Following from the limitations posed by these two categories, Riggins further expands his model to allow for further differentiation. Esteem objects signify the status of a certain individual or group. Personal esteem objects are related to an intimate event or achievement such as a wedding ring or graduation certificate whereas others relate to a collective, more public form of self-esteem such as a soccer trophy or a matriculation jersey. Stigma objects have negative associations and are usually out of view or packed away such as sex toys or alcohol. The list goes on. A dining room table is a social facilitator because it is where families get together and talk about issues to each other over dinner. A personal computer could be an occupational object as it could be linked to a certain profession such as a drill to a handyman. A packet of Millie meal is an
indigenous object insofar as it expresses local themes and customs as opposed to a foreign object that expresses unfamiliar lifestyles such as a bottle of Ketchup. Lastly, way of production also distinguishes objects from each other. Handmade objects are associated with good craftsmanship and have a unique sense of character whereas factory or machine made objects represent poor quality and fallibility. Apart from the objects in themselves, Riggins stresses the importance of display syntax. Referring to the relationship between objects and the amount that some objects are highlighted, and others understated, certain conclusions about their significance can be made i.e. “objects which are highlighted are more valuable or esteemed than those that are understated.” In this sense, objects can also be looked at in terms of clustering and dispersing. Clustered items are grouped together as if they share a common significance whereas dispersed items are seemingly unrelated.
From this newly established position, it is now possible to look at some of the advantages of using objects-based analysis to overcome some of the difficulties that photography has posed. Four categories that Emmison and Smith suggest are: Cultural consumption, Personalization, Use and Culture, knowledge, belief and ideology. Cultural consumption refers to the kind object and how it is used as having the ability to reflect key features of the character or persona of its owner or user in the same way that there might be a certain stereotype of people that drive BMW’s. Personalization works in much the same way but here an inference about the owner or user is made in relation to how they have transformed the object. Mass produced objects are of particular significance here, if the same BMW was fitted with more aggressive looking body work like the SporTech models, it could be said that the owner is a speed junky. Use, therefore, pretty much speaks for itself and works on the premise that objects are “objective and unobtrusive indicators of social activity.” Observing how people use objects and the traces and marks that might be left on objects allow us to study their users. Culture, knowledge, belief and ideology are then embedded in every object and form in our environment.
Emisson and Smith then discuss the value that certain categories of objects imply about their users that are very similar to the work of Naegele and Baur. In the same way that hairstyles or dress can be studied across cultural divides to reveal the most intricate and minute differences and likenesses that people have, so too can objects such as bus stops, window frames cooking pots etc. What is of most relevance to this research paper however is the section on “garbage” or “trash”. It is proposed that rubbish is unique in that it provides us with a more transparent and unedited version of events. Objects that people keep have collected tend to create a certain impression whereas rubbish is seemingly of “no interest to anyone”. There is a long history for the study of rubbish in various fields and this by no means excludes the visual arts. This list is too long to mention in this paper and to allow for a more detailed discussion, I have chosen to look at the Flat Garbage and Garden sculpture in relation to the Record Shop and Jungle Sculpture. The Record Shop is an interactive social installation that takes all the above-mentioned ideas into one room. It has no definite beginning or foreseeable end. It’s a confusing mess an endless clutter. It aims at using “garbage” and other squander within in and around the
university corner in order to bring into question urban renewal, progress and urban pursuit. To fully understand this statement however, it is important to look at the city project. Initially driven by the constant building and rebuilding in and around city center in light of iGoli2030 the city project challenges man’s age-old desire to build high enough to reach the heavens. This need to transcend his earthbound existence and to constantly improve replace and rebuild is interrogated through this installation. Starting quite spontaneously one day, while desperately looking for some new shape, form or material to work with, I noticed how much wood is always being thrown away or simply abandoned, left to rot – mostly by builders and some by art students. Before I knew it, I was on the hunt for every abandoned, left over or thrown away piece of wood that I could find. My efforts were focused mostly on university comer. Left over wood could be found in the most unsuspected places. Occasionally I would scavenge and scrounge around other part of the campus rummaging around every comer for every plank, off cut and splinter that I could find. It has often been said that Wits is a microcosm for society, South Africa or even perhaps Johannesburg. I glued pieces together so that the longer beams would stand up straight and collectively they would refer to a skyline and as a result, smaller pieces on the periphery would represent suburbs/factories or townships. In this place, bigger is always better. Bigger buildings bigger car~ houses and I’m sure bank accounts. In rejection of this, the scale was always small in both the installation and the documentation of thereof I wanted to represent this scaled down version of the world as experienced though the city and thought about this small city as a silent set’ or stage where in some way, the pieces of wood could stand for the people that had some kind of · encounter with it. The traces of a saw, nails still pierce through from one side or paint, varnish and pencil markings are all evidence of the interaction with some kind of maker and his/her vision.
This “vision” always results in some kind of residue as not all the old and broken part can be reused and this of course results in a massive amount of redundant or useless matter left to rot in the city streets or in one of its many garbage dumps. A recent Greek art project entitled Trash Art attempted to come to terms with this overflow and in doing so brought attention to this metropolitan concern. Artist from all over the worlds were invited to produce pieces for the festival but were restricted to the use of trash only. This resulted in very innovative and inventive strategies of dealing with this overlooked, disused and derelict material. One of the artists Michael Beutler worked in situ with a minimum of preparation used Do-It-Yourself materials and construction methods in innovative ways in order to question standardization. We hardly ever question the uniqueness of mass-produced objects and are too happy to be seduced by it. Almost everything is produced in bulk to cut costs hereby alienating the maker from his/her craft. Consumers happily buy into this ~ saving a penny is of more value than having an “authentic” handmade object. Not to say that a mass-produced object is not “authentic” to some degree, Beutler’ s work merely suggests that the character or personality of the maker is lost when the same object is replicated a million times over using a machine.
The record shop amalgamates all of these concerns into a single installation. Not unlike the city project, University Comer was “a good place to strut”. Instead of leftover beams of wood and off cuts from the workshop however, my interest was drawn more synthetic
forms of debris found in and around university comer site. These objects were then transformed and arranged in much the same way as the off cuts and beams from the city project. In the most resent configuration of the work, located in the former entrance to the university comer building, one is confronted by such a wide variety of objects that resemble some kind of wild laboratory or mad electrical workshop where any and every part you can think of can be found from vacuum cleaners to beer bottles. Forms that we might take for granted or have become so desensitized to that it becomes difficult to consider their individual character. Waste is silent yet undeniable it is taboo and every day at the same time. In this way trash, like the producers of it, are implicitly tied to place. An object and people occupy space in relation to its surroundings – they can be said to be in place our out of place. We tidy up and put thing back where they belong after we have used them, partly because it is easier to find things when you need to look for them but more insistently because of the fact that how we arrange objects within our surroundings creates an impression about who we are. Garbage is always placed out of sight/site it is buried deep inside the earth to decay over thousands of years. Sooner or later, it is recycled back into the mainstream. When considering plastic glass paper or tin cans, there is no telling the amount of shapes and forms that the particular item might have taken before reaching the state it is in. This speaks of a kind of universalism and that all matter is bound together on an atomic level. What was once a Coca-Cola bottle in Johannesburg could easily have been melted down and transformed into a checkers packet that now carries the Coca-Cola bottle in Cape Town. The things that we choose to surround ourselves with in our homes give us a sense of comfort and safety whereas what we throw away is associated with danger and instability. In this sense, the Record Shop is a room full of harmful objects and represents the outside worlds, the unknown. Rearranging is then a contradictory act because it attempts to decipher what is already chaotic and volatile.
In his work Flat Garbage, Dieter Roth questions the nature of time and the sedimentation daily experience. During the course of every day, Roth would collect various forms of flat garbage that he then stored in clear envelopes and catalogued in chronological order. Spanning the duration of 1975 and 1976, seven large “institutional” shelving units stand uniformly side by side as a massive archive of daily activity. “Roth created both an autobiographical space and an environment in which we are forced to confront the ephemeral nature of existence.” Garbage is by no means consistent. What we disregard today is often remembered nostalgically and some things we regret having ever thrown away. The most obvious case is of old records. Avid collector music during the most popular years of record production, around the seventies and eighties, sold their entire collections with the advent of compact discs during the late eighties and early nineties. Today for the most part, they regret ever having sold them as records gain a new kind of value as a collector’s items – it seems as if they are trying to recover now what they had no problem in getting rid of yesterday. The value in of flat garbage and many of Roth’s other works can then only be fully appreciated in time. It operates on a similar premise to a time capsule whereby significant objects buried deep under the earth intended to contain valuable information about the present will one day be excavated providing to provide invaluable information about the past. Flat garbage is a detailed account of Roth’s everyday life in a way that we can look at today and have a somewhat
unambiguous account about what transpired during the course of any particular day. Goldblatt’s Photographs can be seen in the same light. To his advantage, he has been working in the same mode for many years and therefore, his photographs only become more telling over time.
The tendency to keep things that should really be thrown away is also of importance in respect to the editing of our lives. Some aspects are either difficult to delete or somehow slip into their opposing category unnoticed. Some objects are meaningful beyond their function. They occupy a sentimental position in our minds and are therefore tough to throw away. The boxes that are never unpacked again after moving to a new house (but kept anyway) are evidence of this – some things are just too hard to let go of Throwing them away would mean throwing away all that they embody. Like Garden Sculpture, Jungle Sculpture invokes this same energy. In both Garden Sculpture and Jungle Sculpture, nothing that enters into the work ever comes out of it again. Reconfigured time and time again to suit the space it is in at the moment, Garden Sculpture “is a meditation on collecting, decay and metamorphosis.” None of the rotting wood has been replace or thrown away and the filth that is accumulated by the piece is re-appropriated into it. Here, dirt acquires an additional meaning and value by virtue of its history within the life of GartenSkulptur. It is looked at as something reminiscent of what once was and has the ability to reveal what is most often hidden of felt shamefully towards. Garden Sculpture’s ability to reuse and recycle itself means that it will also has no vanishing point and lives forever. Jungle Sculpture operates on the same idea. The continual accumulation of objects and the sense of a never-ending process of collecting are the founding points of this installation. Having been surrounded by a culture of collecting while growing up, I integrated this desire into Jungle Sculpture suggesting that the artwork is continually trying to resolve itself and “in a constant state of flux.” GartenSkulpture was originally titled Garden Tool to “emphasize the productive mechanical function to destroy create and to build art”. In the same way, the Record Shop original configuration was called Radio Star, after the 1983 song by The Buggles called Video Killed the Radio Star. By changing the name or naming it differently over time, the works further stress their shifting identities and continuously morphing personas. Another characteristic that follows a similar train of thought is the general instability of the works. As objects are precariously stacked and piled one on top of the other, as if they could fall over at any time and sometimes do, the works also life of their own beyond the control of the artist. In The Record Shop and Jungle Sculpture this unpredictability refers to the nature of the site that it finds itself in. university comer in an immediate sense and Johannesburg generally. It implicates the idea of an unfinished city, continually in process being reshaped and redefined, never reaching a resolved state of being. The thoughts contained in the work are like experiments and sometimes they fail but only in what you expect of them. This is true for most art as intention is not always fulfilled to an exact point that the artist might have had in mind. More often than not, the process has a strong bearing on the outcome of the work as new discoveries are made that can redirect the initial intention.
Although The Record Shop and Jungle Sculpture do not mean to be stand-ins for University comer as a whole, they do however bring the same concerns to the fore in
relation to this site. While the plans to renovate the building might improve the image of the school, the question is whether the redevelopment program can “nurture encounters with its environment.” The objects that occupy The Record Shop and Jungle Sculpture can be said to “come from” a street comer in Johannesburg. University comer according to Julia Chalton, chief curator of the Wits art Gallery and the schools extensive art collection, University Comer is “a place where the school shakes hands with the city.” Shaking hands could refer to many things, a friendly greeting or to seal an agreement, to congratulate. It is unclear to which of these Charlton is referring to if not all three and whether or not she is referring to the present building or to the outcome she envisions for renovation. Nonetheless, the idea of an understanding and a natural agreement with its environment of Le Roux is implicit. In my opinion this will be almost impossible. To achieve this state of greeting/congratulation/transaction can only be achieved by changing the age-old perceptions of its users. Since the so-called abandonment of the city in the late eighties and early nineties, the idea of the city has taken on an unprecedented state of disorder, disrepair and violence. This is reflected strongly in the work of the students being confronted with this mass of “dark” energy at their doorstep, most choose to ignore it and retreat into a more comfortable mode of production denying the richness of what’s right in front of them. Another case is of students that have the initiative and curiosity but are too overwhelmed by their fear to confront it. The major contributor here is often said to be crime. It is difficult not to think about an expensive camera being stolen while taking pictures in town and so it is difficult to assert themselves in this environment. The university overcomes this to a certain degree by being sealed off from the outside world and access is limited to students and staff One can easily forget that you are actually in town within these palisade limits and issues of crime are far less prevalent within these bounds. When looking at a survey published by The Vuvuzela of the most crime ridden areas within the university, the university comer area tops the list.
The building is a prolific statement about the past aspirations of the city in that it symbolizes the sophistication and somewhat frivolous consumption of its former inhabitants. The UFO-like revolving restaurant is a cherry on top of the tower of the elite, hovering above the street as if it is somehow detached from it. My first encounter with the building (not as a student) gave me an overpower feeling that not only gave me sense of the influence and power of the institution but also made me feel alienated from it through this impersonal and overshadowing form. This seems to contradict the intention of its newly appointed architects that alludes to a sense of community harnessed by the space. Generally, this idea would is thought of as being best realized along a horizontal plain of interaction opposite to that of the vertical hierarchical structure that is currently in existence – the future of the building and the future for Wits Art Gallery is therefore contradictory. The citizens that move through the city will still feel unwelcome and overcome by the shear immensity of the space and therefore repelled by it. Located in a Braamfontein, a predominantly corporate business environment, the building can easily blend into its surroundings even though this would mean that visitors to the gallery would feel a sense of disbelonging instead of having a sense that their presence is an important contribution to it. It is by this fact alone that a successful project would rely almost entirely on how closely the projects visionaries listen to the people at ground level.
Although the building cannot service this need entirely, the majority of its future users are based at this level.
There is no doubt that the proposal has great potential with its strategic placement within what has often been dubbed The Cultural Arch. With Park Station, Bree Street Taxi Rank, Newtown and the Civic Theatre but a stone’s throw away; Wits art gallery could have the masses at its doorstep. Along with the 2010 world cup and the “clean up” campaign for the city associated with it, the possibilities are endless. It does however seem as if the lines have already been drawn and the plans finalized but the battle is far from over. If places such as University Comer are going to suit the needs of its future users, then it is up to them to redefine this space and to find new ways of describing it. As we have seen earlier in this paper, the words we use to describe the city have a powerful influence over the nature of its existence. A move away from metaphors of the past that have resulted in loss of community, an idea so close to the hearts African people, reminding ourselves of this would allow for a far more useful environment that can bring places like University Comer closer to their roots.
In this respect, the idea that the city is getting a “facelift” has become quite popular. The idea of urban renewal in today’s context is quite sophisticated in that it does not suggest wiping the slate clean and starting afresh but rather, a rebuilding that uses pre-existing frameworks, foundations and outlines and refashions a new identity around them. The before and after image still have an odd likeness, in extreme cases however the person looks completely different though but beneath the surface of the skin, it’s still know that it’s the same person. I suppose it’s the hope of that person that if we removed the before image and were left with only the after image, we’d be fooled into thinking that he/she were much younger or even a different person altogether. For the people that knew that person before, the effects are quite bizarre the outlines and foundations put a vivid image in their minds of a person that they knew so well but the reality tainted, altered and distorted to a point slightly before he/she is beyond recognition. Opposed to the crime ridden, compartmentalized and uncultured place that we all imagine Johannesburg to be, this research paper and the installations that resulted from and informed it, hopes to reconstitute and give value once more to the idea of sameness-as-worldliness. Through suggesting new interpretation of the city and city life, through the penultimate artwork/experiment Jungle Sculpture, users of University Comer space are confronted with their somewhat unsuspected past, an indisposed present and unpredictable future. Everything from abandoned artworks and discarded music scores to daily refuse have been jammed into a small room in view of people entering and exiting the building. Jungle sculpture as the name suggests refers both to Garden Sculpture and to the concrete jungle. The intention of this installation is hereby to stimulate users of this space to reexamine the street comer, encourage them to reassert themselves within this space taking away from its neutrality so as to personalize it. These people will therefore feel like they own it, belong to it and have a say in the needs that it should satisfy.
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