This is old news. But for me the lighting up of the Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg was very moving. My aunt is dying of cancer. My 40-year-old cousin died earlier this year of breast cancer. My father died 4 years ago. An uncle and another, older cousin have also died of the disease.
This is an awful disease – it chews at the body either too slowly or too fast. And watching as it devours once healthy-looking bodies has been the hardest thing in my life. But death is part of life and becoming an adult is accepting that we are born to die. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t keep trying to prevent these premature deaths by more research into the nature of cancer and into possibly improving the often unsuccessful cures.
So back to the bridge. On October 2, I arrived late, not dressed glamorously in something pink as the invitation had stated we should be. I did apply some pink lipstick at the door when I saw that everybody else was magnificent in designer dresses and beautiful suits.
Estee Lauder is doing a great thing with their Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign. In 2000 Mrs Evelyn Lauder launched The BCA Campaign’s Global Landmarks Illuminations Initiative and over the years landmarks around the world have been light up in pink to call attention to breast health and early detection. This year is the first time that a South African landmark has been illuminated. And of course it was The Nelson Mandela Bridge that was lit up on October 2.
Alon Skuy took the picture.
On the Guardian site recently I came across Melissa Terras’ article, The Superwoman fallacy: what it really takes to be an academic and parent. It’s an edited version of her blog post. The first reason she gives for not being a superwoman is that she has a supportive partner. Partner well at work and at home is the good advice I was once given. It works for her, and for many others.
But it’s the fourth point she makes that I don’t think we pay enough attention to. She writes “I am not superwoman… I can afford help around the house.” She’s a London-based academic and can only afford a cleaner to help her for two hours a week. That’s nothing compared to the help most middle-class South African mothers get.
I have a nanny who is with us for five days a week. Without Lindy Nyakane I would be a depressed, miserable woman living through my children’s lives. I just hope that she isn’t miserable spending most of her days with my children, and that I give enough credit and money to her for helping me make my life work as well as it sometimes does.
This photograph taken on an iPhone by Dale Yudelman is on display at WAM (Wits Art Museum). It captures a relationship we don’t respect enough.
Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin’s exhibition opened last night at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg. It’s a selection of works from three powerful series produced over the last while. All of them are about conflict. Iraq. Afghanistan. Ireland’s Troubles.
This detail from “The press conference”, a bright, funky abstract piece suggesting nothing about violence, war or distress, is from the series The Day Nobody Died. It was made during the photographic artists’ trip to Afghanistan, where they were embedded with British Army. The didn’t take a camera. They didn’t want to take war photographs. They don’t believe what James Nachtwey and his colleagues do is subversive enough. They told me that war photographers or anti-war photographers are part of the war machinery.
They wanted to be subversive and what they chose to do is very interesting.
The press release tells us that “On their first day a BBC fixer was dragged from his car and executed and nine Afghan soldiers were killed in a suicide attack. The following day the number of British combat fatalities was pushed to 100, with casualties continuing until the fifth day when nobody died.”
This piece of photographic paper was exposed to light for a few seconds at a press conference announcing the deaths of these soldiers.
It was a witness to an event.
On his website Nachtwey is quoted saying:
“I have been a witness, and these pictures are
my testimony. The events I have recorded should
not be forgotten and must not be repeated.”
Broomberg and Chanarin’s work plays on this witnessing. Their photographic paper becomes the witness.
There were mumbles last night amongst the chattering classes about relevance, pretentiousness. Too arty for some.
I love the work. I love the apparent lightness of their interpretation which is not light at all.
David Goldblatt’s much anticipated exhibition TJ, Some things old, some things New, and some much the same opens tomorrow at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg (Thursday) at 6pm. The artist will be doing a walkabout on Saturday morning at 10.30am. TJ, used in the old car registrations stood for “Transvaal, Johannesburg”. Some of the photos were taken in what Goldblatt, according to the gallery’s press release, refers to as the “time of TJ”, and the title refers to the notion that particular aspects of Johannesburg which have changed very little since that era and in some cases, worsened.
I went down there today to have a peak. The exhibition is typically beautiful, haunting… The photo above shows the ruins of Shareworld, a theme park built for Sowetan residents, which went bankrupt in the 1980s. Soccer City was built for 3.3 billion rands for the Wold cup. It illustrates, to me, perfectly what Joseph Lelyveld describes as Goldblatt’s way:
“As a photographer, Goldblatt’s distinctive way has always been to go deeper, to find an oblique angle that went right to the heart of the matter: an image bespeaking loneliness, stunted aspiration, fragile pride on both sides of the racial divide, not infrequently with an intimation of imminent violence, or its result.”
I’ve missed this week’s shows.
But on Saturday I’m hoping to make up for not getting to downtown Joburg earlier to be inspired. Madagascan-born and Paris-based artist, Joël Andrianomearisoa, Cute Cut show is on at 8.30. Earlier that evening, artist Barend De Wet will do his thing and later at 10pm Clive Rundle will be wrapping up the week with his show.
Here’s an image from Andrianomearisoa’s show – something to look forward to:
I don’t know about you, but I am feeling very stressed about this weekend. There is tonight’s game wtih the Black Stars who must win. And then tomorrow I want Argentina to win. If they don’t I’ll cry – again.
I am even tempted to not watch any soccer at all. Ignore it completely.
UPDATE: half time Ghana – Urugauy – As hosts we should make all teams feel equally welcome in our country. Urugauy should feel welcome here in South Africa, Africa. Damn though, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by this match, and by Ghana’s goal. No African team has ever played in the semi-finals and we’re close…
My nerves are shot.
IT TOOK me hours to drive through the dark clouds of smog that hang over Johannesburg like an ominous shroud. On the heavily populated East Rand, near Natalspruit, there is an acidic smell from the toxins which are spewed into the air.
I heard about a doctor last week in the south of our city who remarked, cynically, that he paid for his annual overseas family holiday by treating pollution-related illnesses in winter.
In the car with me as I drove out of the city were the three children I raise. It is their little bodies I thought of as I left behind that polluted darkness. In my family, there have been a few too many dispatches in the last while, more dispatches than hatches and matches. And the dispatches have been rather nasty, slow and painful. Not something I would wish on anybody I’ve hatched. Science, as you know, says these kinds of diseases can be prevented by avoiding carcinogens. But what is there to do about the pollution, stop all industry in and around our bustling “World Class African City”? That’s not really That’s not feasible. Leaving it isn’t an option either. Not if we’re to earn an income. Read More…
This evening I went to see the first South African screening of a documentary about dolphin slaughtering in a small fishing town, Taiji, in Japan. Here in a secret cove, kept tightly secured, 23 000 dolphins per year are slaughtered. A few are spared death and are sold to seaquariums around the world to be trained for our entertainment. The rest are stabbed to death and sold for the meat. Most of this is sold under the guise of whale meat because dolphin meat is known to contain unacceptably high quantities of mercury. Read More…
I was there. Eddie Izzard’s first show at the Joburg Civic was absolutely jam packed with incredibly enthusiastic South Africans. I was a little sceptical. I’ve been to a number of international comic acts here. And most of these great comedians I’ve seen don’t work on us. But Eddie did and he is a genius for managing that.
There were a few minutes of warm up and hours of entertainment. Eddie tweeted this morning “Had a great show last night in Johannesburg. Very good audience and I went on a bit. But good to finally play South Africa”. I don’t think anybody was minding too much that you “went on a bit”, Eddie.
My husband was rolling about next to me. John Vlismas (I’m sure it was him) was sitting a few seats a head of us. I tried to spot his reaction but it was too dark.
Eddie finished after 11pm and earned no money for this. I am impressed. As I am with Matthew du Plessis and Jason von Berg’s video of The Times’ interview with the comedian yesterday:
In the spirit of all the ECC stories I’ve been hearing:
Thursday, November 5, 2009 from 9:00pm onwards
Location: Kitchener’s Carvery Milner Park Hotel Juta str Braamfontein
Selektas Charles Leonard and Marc Latilla join forces for the first time for an illegal gathering playing an eclectic mix of 50′s – early 80′s Soul/Funk/Rare Groove/Reggae/RocknRoll/Pre&Post Punk/Township SwingJive and odd South African Radio Pop.
This is all new territory. There is no template or safety net.
YOU NEED THIS. WE NEED THIS. THEY DON’T WANT THIS.