A select group of Johannesburg residents on Sunday August 2 had a sneak preview of the upcoming Johannesburg Development Agency’s “What’s the Plan?” multimedia exhibition.
The exhibition will be launched at Maboneng Precinct in the Johannesburg inner city on Tuesday August 4.
The group – which included poets, photographers and skaters – was exposed to the past 15 years of the City of Johannesburg’s journey to reshape and re-energise the inner city to make it more exclusive and accommodating. The exhibition’s curator, Mariapaola McGurk, said: “We’re committed to facilitating relevant, thought-provoking public engagements around inner city development. We have tussled with the questions of who is the inner city, how do we involve such a diverse community in a meaningful dialogue and where do we start?
“We decided to prioritise the voices of those who are committed to regenerating the city from within, not the whingers or whiners but those who are courageously and determinedly shifting the inner city landscape.”
Through the exhibition and accompanying booklet, JDA aims to get City officials, investors, community members, planners, consultants and students to join it in reflecting on the past 15 years of inner city engagement and to share their perspectives on where they want to see the future.
“What’s the Plan?” has infused a mix of aerial and ground photography, maps, scale plans and architects’ drawings to capture four distinct phases in the shift from a strategy based narrowly on attracting investment to one that focuses holistically on liveability, economic sustainability, the urban poor and the needs of inner city communities.
On Sunday the skaters took to the streets of downtown Joburg, handing out #Whatstheplan post-it stickers to city residents. The stickers were an invitation for residents to comment on the successes and challenges in their living environment.
Also armed with post-it stickers, Jeppe Photo Club members introduced Joburg Photowalkers to their inner city environment and shared the things they liked and those they would like to change.
“The preview was used as a platform for cooperative learning. Each Jeppe Photo Club member paired with a Joburg Photo Walker in an adventure through Maboneng and Jeppestown. The more established photographers had the opportunity to gain new insights into places they regularly photograph while sharing professional skills with emerging photographers,” McGurk said.
Skater Alcator Chikwiri said city officials should stop shunting them from one abandoned building to another.
“We need our own skateboarding park in the city. People hate us. We need our own space to help the City integrate sub-cultures into public places,” he said.
Eighteen-year-old Vukani Thusi, who joined the Jeppe Photo Club six months ago, said he had had the opportunity to see the City in different guises through his camera’s lens.
“What’s the Plan?” will run at the Gauteng Institute for Architecture, 274 Fox Street, Maboneng, until August 29.