Looking Glass is a two part project composed of performative and installative works, presented at the Goethe On Main exhibition space from the 7th of June to the 1st of July 2012. The project puts into relation the current reality of Johannesburg’s urban space with the historical events that led to its creation over 125 years ago, problematising the existing historical reconstruction while adding new fictional layers to it. The exhibition presents itself as a device to deconstruct dominant history making processes while attempting to restore the complexity of the urban body that Johannesburg represents.
Looking Glass has its starting point in the early years of Johannesburg, 1886-1896, into which it delves in order to re-frame the factual, mythical and sometimes conspiratorial first decade of the cities establishment and consecutive explosive growth. In parallel to that, contemporary Johannesburg is examined through mirror-recording- devices that capture reflected video footage of the city by way of performative walks that trace the early outlines of the city. These performances have taken place with three invited professionals in the field of art, architecture, urbanism and performance. Thireshen Govender, Stephen Hobbs, and Donna Kukama engage in a visual conversation while trying to build their own view on one of the three axes that formed the Randjeslaagte triangle, today known as Johannesburg. The so called Looking Glass is here the mirroring device through which these dialogues between past and present, experts and passers by, take the form of a video on a city and the representations that define its urban form.
Parallel to the video installation on the performative work, in the rest of the exhibition space, a speculative reading on founding myths regarding the origins of Johannesburg takes place. A coin engraved with the profile of King Joahnnes V, the King of Portugal, the chemical compound diagram of the cyanidation of gold and the Braamfontein explosion of 1896, become like characters of a story to be written from the perspective of our present time, Cachucho seems to suggest. History results as an unformed material, ours to be appropriated and repositioned in between the looking glass.
2012 GoetheonMain, Johannesburg
Made possible by Goethe Institut Johannesburg and Glass South Africa