Jozi's mine

Design Indaba challenged Jozi creatives to claim the city of Johannesburg, Africa's most developed city.

First Published in

"This illustration features Prysa and the talking dog, Nacho and is called Winter is Coming. It is inspired by our dry, gritty Jo'burg winters - ah, the smell of veld fires." Charl Malherbe is a member of Infiltrate Media and indulges in ink and vector illustration. Website:

Meet "bugchaser" Beiruth, the central character of Athi-Patra Ruga's exhibition ...of bugchasers and watussi faghags, photographed by Chris Saunders. Beiruth is seen in central Johannesburg, scaling the walls of the once notorious John Vorster Square and performing "jaundiced tales of counter-penetration". "Watussi" is a grammatical and aesthetic mispronunciation of the Tutsi people of Rwanda, known for the genocide executed against them by the Hutus, in 1994. The exhibition opens on August 20 at ArtExtra Gallery, Johannesburg. Initially alighting on the scene as a fashion designer, Ruga has developed his creative interests into performance, photography and video installation. He owns a clothing label, Just Nje/Amper Couture. Saunders is an independent photographer who works across fine art, commercials and fashion.

Reggie Legoale lives and works in Soweto, where he has developed a liberated style, described as "khut en joyne" - a term coined in Soweto that simply means the juxtaposition of visuals and typographic elements. Website:

"Hometowns means something. It means you know where you're going, what the back routes are, that you'll bump into familiar faces when you get there. You know the lie of the land like you know the shape of your own body. Jozi is different, though. In Jozi, they knock down things that stand in the way of growth. I can point out a place where a skyscraper stands in Sandton now and say: 'When I was a kid, that was veld, we used to ride our bikes there.' That's why I tattooed my hometown on my arm. It's my heart and, like my city, I knock down the things that stand in the way of my development." - Lisa Cohn. Alexis Fotiadis of Glamour Mechanics took the picture. Bradley Kirshenbaum of Love Jozi designed the tattoo. Lisa Cohn of Fine Content Company inked it on to her body.

The UrbaNET: Hillbrow-Dakar-Hillbrow project by Marcus Neustetter and Stephen Hobbs came about through encounters with Senegalese immigrants living in Johannesburg's infamous neighbourhood of Hillbrow. The Senegalese immigrants perceived the artists to be outsiders in Hillbrow. This inversion of perceptions around public space, ownership, territoriality and citizenship, led the artists to question their own sense of place within Johannesburg and Africa. Invited to exhibit at the Dak'art Biennale in 2006, the artists conducted interviews with these immigrants and also asked them to draw maps of their hometown, Dakar City. The UrbaNET investigation then saw the artists investigating Dakar City through these maps as objects of memory and fact.

"Ponte tower in Berea has become an iconic simulacrum of Johannesburg city life. This graphic shows media clippings dating back to 1968, when its seed was first planted in the public imagination, to 2005 when Wallpaper compared the building with scenes from the movie Bladerunner." - Judith Erasmus, an architect at dhk.

"Less often do people sit and think of the people who built our cities and work on the ground level under hazardous situations to keep things afloat." - Mzwandile Buthelezi. Buthelezi is a graphic designer and graffiti artist. He recently founded his own design studio called Satta.

Leon Krige is a photographer and architect who was been recording the changing city of Johannesburg since 1974.

Newtown Cooling Tower Demolition (1985). Taken the morning after the tragic demolition of three very elegant structures. Note the candyfloss for sale to spectators. Johannesburg has three buildings per stand in the CBD, as each generation covers its history.

Top Star (1991). The now contentious inner-city ziggurat, which houses a derelict drive-in theatre, displays a leathery landscape texture. Plans are underfoot to extract remaining gold dust and flatten or move the closest mining memory to the inner city.

Night Traffic Double Highway (2006). A double exposure at winter dusk captures the traffic passing East-West past the remains of the Topstar and a distant mine-dump. The workers anxiously rush to and from the city, oblivious to the history of mining that created this infrastructure.

"These works are part of an ongoing project that seeks to explore and to draw close to the nature of Johannesburg's spirit. The works mine and extract - through the process of tracing - a series of definitive fragmentary experiences of the city." - Dirk Bahmann. Bahmann is an artist, landscaper, designer and architect currently employed by Silvio Rech Architects.

Bruce Cowie is a designer at Jozi-based thnkyvrymch™, as well as an artist and musician connected to the Design is a Good Idea label. Download the track below.

Willem Kitshoff is a graphic designer. After studying at AAA School of Advertising, he started his career at an architecture firm, where he discovered his love for structure and balance in all disciplines of design.

"I drew my inspiration from those old African guys in their 40-year-old V6 Chevvies, Cressidas, Fords, Valiants and Mercs. Nobody appreciates the lines and romance inherent in those old cars more than these aged township gentlemen with snow-white hair, tweed jackets, crisp white shirts and well-kept leather shoes. I wrote this little story around a sketch I did - the gentle old man, the lovely old car, the fact that bad things happen to anyone. Has he spent his life saving up to finally get the car of his dreams? Has he spent his life riding a bicycle to Parktown North and back, gardening for the madam, stashing his money in an old tin box? We don't know. There's no point. What's more romantic than crashing off a cliff in the twilight, gunshot to the belly in the car you've spent your life restoring?" Jason Bronkhorst is a partner in Infiltrate Media, a graphic design and illustration firm in Jo'burg. Website:

Lebogang Nkoane has lived in Alexandra Township since day one. He studied Computer Science at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and completed his honours at the University of Pretoria. Focussing on web design and development, he is self-employed and spends his days and nights chasing deadlines. Photography has been his escape since 1996. Website:

"It's a crazy rollercoaster ride that you have to see through once you get on." - Johnny Kotze. Kotze is a designer, art director and illustrator. He moved to Johannesburg two years ago as art director for SL magazine and is now working for Network#BBDO. He is also one half of indie-electro outfit Johnny Neon.

Rising actress Lindiwe Matshikiza wears a cardboard handbag designed for "guilt-free disposal and seasonal changes", a low-tech Afrika vest, and "Bauhaus-meets-Dr-Alban" Heavy Metal jewellery, all designed by Dokter and Misses. Established by Katy Taplin and Adriaan Hugo in 2004, Dokter and Misses has grown to include lighting, fashion, ceramics, accessories and a dedicated shop at 44 Stanley.

Papercake Trading is the brainchild of two individuals that believe in the magic of collaboration. Andrea Fox and Anneke Pettenburger form a dynamic artistic duo who love exploring new ideas and products within the platform of mosaics and ceramics. Website:

Ben Rausch is a DJ, VJ, animator, ass-shaker, synth-smasher, singer, screamer, designer, illustrator and promoter - besides being the founder of the Sovereign Academy DJ collective and one half of indie-electro outfit Johnny Neon. His multi-disciplinary submission also includes an animation cycle and music track. Download the track below.

"Most of the pics are taken in town on a night out, or in traffic while the sun goes down. In my collection I have everything from a pic of a jol in Soweto to my parking space at work. So I figured this is exactly what makes Jozi mine and made this collage of my face with all the pics of Jo'burg that I love." Joanne van der Linde collects buttons, ashtrays and camera phone pics. She drools when she concentrates and is an art director at Network#BBDO.

"The characters are supposed to indicate city buildings, yet at the same time come to personify something 'other'. The title is intended to evoke the indifference we have cultivated towards crime and corruption, and the blind following of mindless leaders is also inherent." Shane de Lange is a designer, artist, writer and lecturer based in Johannesburg and Pretoria. Website:

"Johannesburg is incredibly green and leafy like no other lived-in or experienced city in the rest of the world. This 'City of Trees' is portrayed in a single page of an imaginary children's book." Miguel Orfao is a designer at Switch: Branding and Design.

Yda Walt is an artist and designer who interprets the world around her with lively and colourful printed and handstiched textiles. She does most of her textile shopping in the CBD of Jo'burg. Website:

For Sylvesta     

"It was winter, the dry season, a time of veld fires. Not that I was looking for this picture; I sort of stumbled on it. It was a weekday and I was driving around the city doing pretty much nothing but looking at things that interested me about Johannesburg: the old entrance to the Top Star drive-in, a quintessential bit of Americana, now disused and mostly forgotten; also Ponte tower and this weirdly shaped water tower on South Rand Road. I had been to all these places before, but looking at a city, just like listening to a favourite pop ditty or re-reading a half-remembered poem, is enriched by the repetition. But that's just me philosophising after the fact. What really drew me back to the water tower was an odd experience I'd had there with my brother a few years before. While he took earnest pictures of the tower, I had kicked about the veld, marvelling at all the junk camouflaged by the grass. This is how I stumbled on a massacred briefcase, its contents strewn, here and there, across the veld. Among its contents, I presume, was a weather-beaten English dictionary, the name "Sylvesta" inscribed into the inside hardcover. The owner's name intrigued me, enough to write a short story exploring all the imaginative possibilities of who the book's owner was. Was he a foreigner, someone of Latin origin perhaps, maybe even from a former Portuguese colony? I never found out: fiction isn't investigative journalism. Still, every time I see the tower, which is every time I do the loop around the inner city to get to the airport, I think of Sylvesta. Who was he? How did his briefcase end up in that banal patch of urban rusticity south of Johannesburg? Did he miss his dictionary? What was his favourite word in it?" - Sean O'Toole is a journalist and writer. Editor of Art South Africa, he has also published a book entitled The Marquis of Mooikloof and Other Stories.

"She is multiform; ever-changing, always constant. She is a vacuum that draws you into her psyche teeming with opposites. She is light in her ultraviolet rose gardens and dark in her alleyways and ghettos. She is the humility of Diepsloot and the opulent bravado of Houghton. Minibus taxis and Beamers alike race for supremacy in the emergency lanes of her streets. North, West, East and South are sovereign territories unto their own with borders somewhere between the M1 and the N17. She is suburban bliss and an urban jungle with towering oak trees growing between the barbed wire and palisades. She is Hillbrow and Sandton, Ponte and Muldersdrift, Brakpan and Benmore. She is the ultimate contrast. She is My Jozi." - iCandi. iCandi communications is a full-service communications agency with design and brand activation capabilities. Designer and art director: Sacha Traest. Copywriter: Justin Render. Creative input: Ilona Fookes, Edgar Nelson, Kim Nelson, Janine Preacher, Ashma Saidi, Lisa Smith.

"The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Jo'burg is BEE acquisitions and the new Sandton 'elite'. Jozi is littered with Chocolate Factories and hundreds of little Charlies scrambling for the golden ticket. Though BEE is the beginning of a balancing process, the day our country has succeeded is the day we don't need it." Khayalethu Mtshali graduated from Vega in 2007 and then started drawing for fun. A day doesn't go by without him drawing - he even thinks about it in his sleep.

"MissYucki, the character, is a professional pavement princess and apprentice witch doctor. She is a lost child and little homeless street wanderer who, together with her guardians the muti monster tokoloshes, parade the urban landscape hawking their trash treasure and magic medicines, adventuring through dreamscapes and city slums and participating in all the little miss beauty pageants with the goal of becoming the ultimate little miss beauty pageant star." MissYucki is Alba Poretti and Kathleen Cameron. Their work straddles an assorted range of artistic output including illustration, accessories and character design. Website: