Hannelie Coetzee in studio. Photo by David Mann

In late 2020, I visited the public artist Hannelie Coetzee at her Victoria Yards studio. We spoke about public art, urban ecology, and working with natural materials on a massive scale. The result of our conversation is this short profile piece for Creative Feel.

A few grey clouds threaten an otherwise clear day in Johannesburg, and in Lorentzville, a growing community of artists, traders, and environmentalists are busy making the most of an afternoon outdoors at the Victoria Yards complex. At the far side of the complex, where a construction team are hard at work, the front doors of Hannelie…

At various points throughout 2020, I engaged with an architectural research unit at the University of Johannesburg’s Graduate School of Architecture, Unit 14. Toward the end of the year, I contributed a reflective essay to their annual Rogue Economies publication. The essay looks at the place of creative writing in the architectural practice, and reflects on my month-long Writing Site engagement with the Unit in April 2020. Rogue Economies: Working Leisure will be out in early 2021. Below is an extract of my essay.

Before the otherwise ordinary year of 2020 rapidly became extraordinary, I was invited to lead a…

Images by Zivanai Matangi

From September to December 2020, the photographer Zivanai Matangi and I teamed up to curate a weekly project for The Centre for the Less Good Idea called #FromTheArchive:

#FromTheArchive looks back at seven Seasons worth of experimental, collaborative and interdisciplinary arts projects at The Centre for the Less Good Idea. Here, The Centre’s rich archive of written and photographic work is used to draw out and highlight the significant and often imperceptible refrains and processes that take place during the making and staging of a Season.

Some of the themes and methodologies we explored included movement, materiality, the short-form, the…

Somewhere along the pandemic hellscape I stopped producing any writing outside of what I had to do for work. The words were simply not working. Later, when Room206 put out a call for short prose submissions centering on the theme of ‘joy’, I surprised myself by throwing together a few words, mostly sourced from a collection of free-writing and notes. The end result was an odd mixture of abstract reflective writing and the kind of sentiments that border on self-help fluffiness. Nonetheless, the piece was published and ended up getting me out of my mopey, lockdown funk. Full piece below.

One thing, then another (IV), 2020, Reconfigured map fragments on canvas, 50 x 60 cm. Photo by Matthew Bradley

I’ll probably never grow tired of Gerhard Marx’s work. After first seeing him in action through Season 4 of The Centre for the Less Good Idea, I reviewed his early 2019 show at The Goodman for the Business Day. Recently, he returned to The Goodman for a solo show titled Near Distant and I put a few words together for The Mail&Guardian. Full piece below.

From a distance at first – possibly from the other side of the room. Then up close, very close, so that you can see the lines and fragments of text emerge before you. Finally, from…

After engaging with an obscene amount of virtual exhibitions and performances from my desk, I booked a (physical) viewing of the painter Jessica Webster’s latest show at The Goodman, A Horse with No Name. It was fantastic. Words on the show for ArtThrob first published here.

‘I mean, a lot of painting is about looking behind the beautiful object, you know? What lies beyond, what lies beneath. I wanted to challenge myself even more in that regard,’ says the artist Jessica Webster outside of her latest exhibition of paintings at Johannesburg’s Goodman gallery. …

This review formed part of a series of daily reviews on the 2020 Virtual National Arts Festival, first published on The Critter.

Since its inception, Juliet Jenkin’s choral play, Woolworths, has been staged in venues across the country. This year’s Virtual National Arts Festival marks the play’s debut in its new format as an audio drama.

If you haven’t already heard of Woolworths, it’s a fast-paced 50-minute study of contemporary middle-class South African whiteness, cleverly masked as satire. …

This review formed part of a series of daily reviews on the 2020 Virtual National Arts Festival, first published on The Critter.

The union of interactive media and a solid story seems to be the winning formula when it comes to virtual plays. This year’s Distell National Playwright piece, Another Kind of Dying, pairs a simple and effective narrative with 360° video to brilliant ends.

Based on the competition’s winning script by Amy Louise Wilson, the play has been adapted for the virtual realm, allowing viewers to, quite literally, immerse themselves in the centre of it all. Following the death…

This review formed part of a series of daily reviews on the 2020 Virtual National Arts Festival, first published on The Critter.

Sportsmen have been publicly apologising for decades now. The fit-for-live-TV genre of apology usually goes one of two ways: Cold and defensive, or ostentatiously remorseful with a splash of tears. In Steve Smith, Jemma Kahn provides a brief study of an apology that somehow manages to include both.

First off, a little context: In March 2018, then Australian cricket captain Steve Smith was caught out for his role in a ball-tampering scandal. It all went down at Cape…

Simangele Kalisa, Clothed (2009)

This review forms part of a series of daily reviews on the 2020 Virtual National Arts Festival, first published on The Critter.

The 2010s are behind us. What do we have to show for it? More than a decade’s worth of photographic work showcasing the complex and myriad faces of South Africa is showcased in The Market Photo Workshop’s new online retrospective.

Reclamations, the online exhibition hosted on the Market Photo Workshop’s PHOTOFORM AFRICA platform, allows viewers to browse through the expansive project archives of its Tierney Fellowship photographers. …

David Mann

David Mann is a writer and editor who lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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