Read­ing Jozi

CityPress - - The Good Guide - Gar­reth.van­niek­erk@city­

In­die pub­lish­ing house Fourth­wall Books ex­pands on its lit­er­ary archive of Jo­han­nes­burg’s ar­chi­tec­tural mem­ory this month with two new re­leases that tell the sto­ries of some of the city’s most re­mark­able struc­tures: the no­to­ri­ous Egoli Gas plant in the for­merly in­dus­trial Mil­park, and an anthology of pho­tos and es­says of the sky­scrapers of Jo­han­nes­burg.

In The Jo­han­nes­burg Gas­works, Monika Läuferts le Roux and Judith Mavun­ganidze, the tales of the mys­te­ri­ous gas­works struc­tures are col­lected to­gether in a fas­ci­nat­ing, and rare, look at the site. Es­says by au­thors like Clive Chip­kin and Alex Op­per are pre­sented along­side pho­to­graphs by Sally Gaule and David South­wood. The build­ings have cap­tured the imag­i­na­tion of the city with leg­ends of per­ilous by sink­holes, ghosts and even buried treasure.

In Up Up: Sto­ries of Jo­han­nes­burg’s High­rises, pub­lished by Ger­man im­print Hatje Cantz, re­portage and his­tor­i­cal images and plans ac­com­pany lin­ear black-and-white pho­tog­ra­phy, some by young Mar­ket Photo Work­shop grad­u­ate Mpho Mokgadi. Mokgadi’s images, which at times look like they date back to Jo­han­nes­burg’s be­gin­nings, cre­ate an over­whelm­ing sense of the build­ings’ his­tor­i­cal pres­ence in the city, like stat­ues watch­ing over the streets.

“I moved to Joburg two years ago, so I’m still in the process of dis­cov­er­ing it,” the Tsh­wane-raised Mokgadi told #Trending. “I have a sort of love-hate re­la­tion­ship with Joburg. There’s a build­ing called the Sun Ho­tel, which is beau­ti­ful on the out­side but, when I went in­side, it was empty and dis­con­nected from every­thing around it.

“Ev­ery­one thinks Joburg is this glam­orous place, but it’s dark and empty, and peo­ple make use of these build­ings that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity doesn’t care about any more.” In a week where much of mid­dle Jo­han­nes­burg will be cel­e­brat­ing the launch of the spec­tac­u­larly gre­gar­i­ous and in­ap­pro­pri­ate Mall of Africa, the books are a re­minder of a city that sur­vives against all odds.


UP UP... One of Joburg’s many soar­ing struc­tures

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