Movement Johannesburg

Published by The City Agency
Edited with Zahira Asmal
2015

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Movement Johannesburg is an urban anthology on Johannesburg, which I co-edited with Zahira Asmal. The book was launched at the end of 2015 in Johannesburg and Cape Town and uses movement as a conceptual device through which to read urban process in the city. Over thirty architects, academics, photographers, urban thinkers, and artists contributed to the book which, as a result contains powerful historical imagery and commissioned photographic work.

The book opens with co-editor Zahira Asmal exploring Johannesburg as an “Arrival City” by noting that since the gold rush in 1886, Johannesburg continues to be a place of arrival, where people migrate to in search of their own gold, which is usually greater opportunity and a better life. The book critically assesses the city’s history, delves into its colonial and apartheid pasts, and explores the lasting aftershocks of these processes on the city through key pieces by Alex Parker, Magas Pather, Julie-Ann Tyler, and Melinda Silverman. I explore the geological, landscape, historical and contemporary movements that together create the ‘Crash City’ we experience today.

Sally Peberdy takes this further by outlining the processes that led to migration in the city, and the forms of cross-border trade that now connect Johannesburg to other southern African places. Old processes are contrasted by newer conditions, such as the movement of informal recyclers documented by Michael Flanagan, and urban taxi experiences are expressed graphically by Rendani Nemakhavani. Laurice Taitz, Thomas Coggin and Karin Botta explore the quirks, complexities and culture of the changing modern city, while Adam Habib and Thandi Matthews examine the underlying social and political currents that are behind many of the city’s movements. Movement Johannesburg also contains compelling interviews with Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron, Pregs Govender, and Jay Naidoo on the democratic movement, while Molemo Moiloa interviews artists on the public art movement in the city. Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau and Sithole Mbanga reflect on new visions for the city.