Joburg Lasts

This interactive web-based platform allows readers to trace the deep histories of influences and elements of life at Kwa-Mai Mai, a traditional healers market in Jeppestown, Johannesburg.

Observed in mining and historical remnants found to the west of the city, this drawing begins with land-scale registers of ground-radioactivity in the Village Main mine area, travelling north through the city’s groundwater, and reaching the roots of a nearby impepho plantation. Burning of the crop some weeks later. The effects of the imphepho-herb are altered and augmented. A spiritual network mutates – a frequency of millions of voices, messages, and invocations – accessible through a small portal in Jeppestown, Johannesburg. The project traces a speculative spatial anomaly, partly real and partly imagined, through Kholwa’s enterprise – a micro-radiostation on the fringes of Kwa Mai Mai market. She has acquired the ability to tap into this supernatural communication network, using a massive transistor radio that is set up on the roof of her shop; and regularly holds programming of various selected contributions by people ‘on the other side’ of Johannesburg. Like her, there are several other network-channels in the area – adverts of their offerings pasted to every visible concrete bin, bollard or electrical distribution box in Johannesburg.  Through this event and its resultant economies, the presence of Johannesburg’s remains are seen as perpetual, continuous, lasting, haunting – a chaotic yet profound reminder of histories and legacies and surfacing in everyday Jo’burg life.