Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jozzie, Maboneng, Beloved. City of Lights

Mary Sibande. Her Majesty, Queen Sophie from Long Live The Dead Queen series, Gallery Momo.
Really? You smirk. Johannesburg, City of Lights? Yes, really. Jozzie. The diamond cut City of Lights with more grit, more colour, more va-va voom and "how do youu zay"...more je ne sais quoi...Gasp! if you're French. But seriously, Jozzie is undergoing something of a metamorphosis, awakening from a long if not always quiet or gentle slumber, beating forth steals of light from its splendid cacoon-enwrapped butterfly wings. There is a growing hub of creative energy beyond the epi-centric suburbs, doing up the whole downtown lifestyle experience similar to the urban resurgence most American cities welcomed before the 2008 financial meltdown.

Jozzie, Ever Beloved. Image: Munschroom, 2010.

A favorite hotspot is the Maboneng Precinct, where artists such as world renowned William Kentridge maintain working studios at Arts on Main and where mixed-use development space Main Street Life launched late last year, complete with a boutique hotel, 12 Decades Art Hotel saluting eGoli's rich 120 year history.  Maboneng's resurgent spirit is, to me, as Ace Hotel & Mushrooming Dominion is to the WTF? nebulous urban desert district wishfully included as part of Flatiron but more accurately described as NoMad (for bite and for North of Madison Sqr. Park).  It's also not lost that the main man behind Maboneng Precinct is in so many ways a perfect study of New York success--Jonathan Liebmann--a 20 something lone wolf entrepreneur with a bizarre bold vision and the gall to make us believe in it too.  Maboneng is seSotho--the place of lights. In that word, Africans captured Johannesburg's metaphoric essence--a place of opportunity, adventure, of charting out a big canvas and stuffing it with dreams, if you can catch them from an elusive, star-bursting sky. A place of many bright, and possibly blinding lights. And yes, there you have it. There's nothing to smirk about. Johannesburg. City of Lights.

Mary Sibande from series, Long Live The Dead Queen. Johannesburg, 2010. Image: John Hodgkiss.


  1. What an intriguing, beautifully written post on joburg.

  2. preach on. we all need to look to the global capitals beyond the obvious for inspiration. thank you for leading the way.

  3. @Brett. Thank you. I'm so glad you found this piece interesting--a touch nostalgic for me but Jozzie really is my first love. Thanks again.

  4. @Fashion Maven. Cou;d not agree more! Thanks for visiting, please stop in again.