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The Salon

Volume 2, 2010

the Johannesburg Salon, Volume 2

Cosmopolitan Freedoms
Lara Allen
What do the contributors to this volume of The Johannesburg Salon think of the present state of the world? What is, or could be, the social role of intellectuals concerned to increase global levels of justice and equality? One response, suggests Lara Allen, is a growing quest for equal access to 'cosmopolitan freedoms' for people across the planet.
Extract from 3b by Cicilie Photo: Flickr/Cicilie
Circulation ≈ Forms
Arjun Appadurai
Arjun Appadurai is interested in the ways in which locality is produced in a globalizing world characterized by high degrees of connectivity and circulation. He argues that it is important to consider both the circulation of forms and the forms of circulation, and to evolve a theory that relates the two.
Compagnie Le Corps Indice 1 Photo: Le Corps Indice (Wikimedia: GNU Free Documentation License)
South-South Gothic: A haunting tale of suspense featuring a cemetery in the punjab, boer prisoner of war graves, cold war neo-medievalism and much more
Isabel Hofmeyr
Isabel Hofmeyr goes in search of an intentional monument: a Boer prisoner of war memorial cenotaph. She finds an unintentional memorial haunted with contradictions that address multiple pasts and presents.
Photo: Isabel Hofmeyr
Wilson Mootane
Joni Brenner
On the 19th of January, 2010, Wilson Mootane died. Joni Brenner, who painted and sculpted his face for seventeen years, relates the story of his last hours.
Wilson in the studio, 2002 - Photo: Joni Brenner.
Life, Death and Portraiture
Joni Brenner
Visual artist Joni Brenner's oeuvre is dominated by portraits of one man. Here she offers some initial thoughts how his death changes the significance of her works.
2009, oil on sandstone, sprayed supawood, Perspex, 31 x 61 x 3.5cm - Photo: Courtesy Joni Brenner
Sitting for the Post-Mortem Portrait
David Bunn
Engaging the work of Joni Brenner, David Bunn reflects on loss; the relationships between the portrait, the funerary mask and the face of the cadaver; and the liquid nature of Objects.
Mask of Agamemnon by Joni Brenner, 2001. Photo: Courtesy Joni Brenner ©
Apartheid / apartheid / [ ]
Saree Makdisi
Blankes/Nie Blankes. Jewish/non-Jewish. There are contemporary Israeli laws equivalent to all the major aspects of South African Apartheid legislation, and these are enforced with extreme violence. The most insidious difference between the two systems of discrimination, asserts Saree Makdisi, is that Israel and its many influential supporters deny that such unequal separate development is in any way racist, an assertion premised on the repudiation of the existence - let alone the rights - of 11 million Palestinians. How is this possible: this total refusal to entertain the facts and the evidence, reason, law and basic principles?
Mandela on Israeli apartheid Photo: Carlos Latuff (copyright free, Wikimedia Commons)
Sarkozy's Law: The Institutionalization of Xenophobia in the New Europe
Dominic Thomas
Examining the new policy ramparts of Fortress Europe, Dominic Thomas finds the ratification of racial intolerance, the enabling of exploitative labour practices, and increasingly extreme legal 'security measures'; all of which culminate in 'round-ups' and 'camps' ominously reminiscent of one of the darkest passages in Europe's recent past.
Des Papiers Pour TouTEs - Photo: Flickr/William Hamon
Alien Landscapes
Kim Berman
For visual artist and activist Kim Berman the xenophobic violence that ripped through South Africa in 2008 was a horror, a disgrace, and marked the end of an ideal. She discusses her responses as a print-maker to the violence and its aftermath.
Winter Camp 1, White River (Monotype) - Photo: Courtesy Kim Berman
Dislocation and Collaboration: Recent prints by Kim Berman
Pamela Allara
Throughout her oeuvre Kim Berman has sought to witness and process South Africa's traumas through landscape, suggests Pamela Allara. 'The landscapes Berman created in response to xenophobia in South Africa are sterile with whited dislocation and regimented emptiness.'
Fig. 10. Purged I, 2009. Monotype, 31.25 x 42.5". Courtesy the artist. Private collection.
Crickets in the Postcolony: A Conversation on Music
Clare Loveday and Yara El-Ghadban
A Johannesburg-based composer and a Montréal-based anthropologist discuss the barriers to entry faced by non Euro-American composers who attempt to access the 'gated community of Western art music'.
Poster for a performance of The Collision Project - Photo: courtesy
Capturing 'The Spirit of Africa'
Syned Mthatiwa
Syned Mthatiwa interrogates the politics underpinning literary competitions and compilations in Africa. Whose voices get to define contemporary African literature and experience? Whose do not? Why? And what might be the consequences?
Cover of Basket of Leaves
Why is Thabo Mbeki a 'Nitemare'?
Mark Gevisser
Inspired by a satirical play by Tsepo wa Mamatu, Mark Gevisser wonders whether blaming Thabo Mbeki for all that is wrong in South Africa isn't a politically expedient strategy to evade what should be acknowledged as a far broader communal culpability. The players, on and off the stage, suggest that Mbeki's legacy may be more complex and more important than much contemporary public discussion suggests.
Scene from Mbeki and Other Nitemares, by Tsepo wa Mamatu - Photo: courtesy Sally Gaule
King of Dreams
Damien-Adia Marassa
Shadowed by the specter of destruction that increasingly characterizes our contemporary predicament, what can we learn from Martin Luther King? Is it not more important than ever to 'have a dream' of a better, more just, more equal world; and to live and act today so as to make such a vision a radical imperative, as opposed to an unreachable utopian fantasy?
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Photo: Dick DeMarsico © US Library of Congress, public domain
Africa and the Night of Language
An interview with Achille Mbembe by Annalisa Oboe
This interview with Achille Mbembe started in Venice in March 2008 and continued for some time in the form of a conversation about the personal and intellectual routes that have led him to become one of the most original voices in contemporary culture and thought. Mbembe is perhaps best known internationally for his On the Postcolony. Originally written in French, this book has been translated into Italian and English. Other translation projects in German and Spanish are under way.
Ash and Lightning above an Icelandic Volcano Photo: NASA (public domain)
In Commemoration of Jean-Marc Ela
Jane I. Guyer
For Jean-Marc Ela and his generation of postcolonial Christian intellectuals in Cameroon, achieving redemption and meaningful spirituality depended fundamentally on acknowledging the value of the everyday practices of pagan village life. This also provided a mechanism of vigilance against destructive external forces.
Jean-Marc Ela
Two Discources and an Event
Ainehi Edoro
Cut loose from the colonial 'discourse of contingency', challenges Ainehi Edoro; and also from the communitarian cul-de-sac produced by the 'discourse of continuity' propagated by many post- and anti-colonial thinkers. The way to conceptualise a radically new and cosmopolitan African future is to mobilize Badiou's notion of the Event.
être ou ne pas être... Photo: Flickr / Alain Bachellier
On Some Assumptions about the Banality of Crime
Juan Orrantia
Gazing into the en-walled, electric-fenced garden of his new house in suburban Johannesburg, Juan Orrantia longs for the vibrant, crammed, hustling streets of his home city, Bogotá. There crime and the fear it induces has been met with an aggressive reclamation of public space. What would Mockus do in Johannesburg?
JBogota plein Photo: Iijjccoo (GNU Free Documentation License)