Visual artist Jamal Nxedlana documented the recent Sharp Sharp Johannesburg exhibition at Gaite Lyrique in Paris in this 3 part video series shot on the Nokia Lumia 925.
The exhibition takes the form of a portrait in sounds and images of a city in mutation and explores Joburg’s undergound artists, performers and musicians. Each year, the Gaite Lyrique researches the artistic peculiarities of a different major city. Sharp Sharp Johannesburg follows similar exhibitions showcasing the urban realities of Berlin, Istanbul and Portland.
Jamal’s 3 videos cover the 4 week exhibition which was categorised by 4 themes:
A symbol of the right to the city won by black South Africans at the end of apartheid, Johannesburg has gone through the desertion of whites, the influx en masse of African migrants, and entry into a neoliberal economy. This combination has propelled the city into dynamics of transformation that makes sensitive issues even more sensitive, such as the question of community, the relationship to space and to the common good. The city must reinvent her everyday life, groping and experimenting with new ways of being together.
Liberated from political struggle and driven by the emergence of a consumer society, the middle-class youth have taken over the streets and the world of pop culture, mixing U.S. type urban culture and the aestheticization of the township as a tool to build a new identity. These generations have turned the body into a statement of style and the street into a giant screen onto which they project an imagination that breaks away from existing affiliations.
The metropolis bears the scars of racial politics and a conditioned urban culture. Johannesburg is calling her present into question and could very well go beyond her status of counter-urbanity to become the model of a city in transformation. By giving a voice to the buried fears and collective hopes, she is using science fiction to invoke the future. A fantastical city, Jo’burg is the future… and Spoek Mathambo is doing the soundtrack.
The search for identity undertaken by black people after the fall of apartheid is a true feat of strength. As free men and women, younger generations are questioning this identity. Bringing to light issues of homosexuality and racialization, they express the need to reinvent difference beyond assignment. Kwaito, the first electronic musical trend on the continent, has been the stimulating background noise for this movement.