I have a folder on my computer very unimaginatively named “Randoms to edit”. It contains a bizarre selection of photos I have taken over the past year which never got edited because they weren’t attached to anything special. These two photos are part of that collection and they finally got a quick once-over in Lightroom after I decided that I couldn’t think of a better subject for my first post of 2013 than Zaki Ibrahim.
Zaki is a South African singer and she is absolutely amazing.I first saw her live in Johannesburg at the very event in Greenside where I took these fabulously average photos. (The reason why she is behind glass in these photos because she was in a recording studio – part of 5fm’s live performance feature)
Listening to Zaki while living in New York always makes me really happy, but it makes me miss Joburg at the same time.
Zaki’s album Every Opposite is available on Spotify if you want to take a listen. Draw the Line, Something in the Water, The Do, The Brave Ones are my favourites, although the number one spot belongs to the most sultry sexy song ever – Conjure.
I’ve developed a habit lately; a habit of walking in the evenings and on weekends, completely devoid of any purpose or plan. Choosing a direction based on a strange pulling feeling on the one side if your body, or on the basis of which set of traffic lights are green.
I suppose I used to do something similar back in Jhb – except that it involved driving and not walking and it was so nowhere near as pleasurable. I love how walking allows your eyes, in fact all your sensory organs, to take in information at the speed that evolution intended.
There are times while I’m walking when I feel there is a strange magnetic-like force that is preventing me from turning around and heading home. There are times when just as I come home, keys in hand, I decided to keep going “for just one more block” which turns into four. Or fourteen. Or forty.
Tonight I am in Helsinki, Finland, and these are three street shots from two-hour stroll this evening. What a contrast to the streets of Manhattan that I have been walking the past 6 weeks. They are mostly empty by midnight here, sort of like Johannesburg,but without the threat of menace in the air.
I spend a lot of my time socializing and being around people. But as a loner at heart I love to spend time alone, be it driving randomly around the city on a Sunday afternoon or going to read in the park.
Today I went to the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG). I actually just wanted to enjoy the old artworks and the peace and quiet in the space, but was a little surprised to find out that the entire space had been transformed for an exhibition by an artist called James Webb.
I cannot remember enough of matric art to be able to use fancy terms to describe his work – but it is an abstract installation made up of small installations all over the space of the JAG. It relies quite a lot on sound and it was a very disconcerting experience walking around a practically-empty JAG on my own, hearing all these strange sounds. To spook me even more a lot of the rooms are separated by these cloth hangings as part of the exhibition and I felt quite lost and disoriented most of the time.
I didn’t think I would enjoy especially since I had come there for silence, but some of the installations are really moving. I really like the Prayer, which is a red carpet with 12 speakers, each playing a different prayer from the religions practiced around Johannesburg. I would recommend going to see it – unless you prefer simple art – in which case you might not like it.
Photos are all curtesy of the iPhone again. I have a new camera app that does HDR hence the cool ghost in the photo with the Prayer.
This past weekend was absolutely glorious in Johannesburg and all I felt like was walking around outdoors to enjoy the sunshine. However, if you live this city you will know that it really isn’t a walking city. But there is one place that never lets me down when I feel like being outdoors – Emmarentia Dam. Yes, you have to drive to get there, but it is pretty big and usually not too crowded, which is perfect when you don’t feel like any human interaction. (The dog in the photo is not mine – but I did want to steal him).
While I was walking around, it made me think of the most famous of all ee cummings poems – and the one through which I came into contact with in Grade 9. The only thing that was missing was the ‘greenly spirits of trees’ – they were most brown. But it certainly felt like the sun’s birthday.
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
The photos below are some of my favorites from previous visits to Emmarentia.
Now I know that making a claim like that is basically inviting coffee snobs to rip into you and tear you apart for your underdeveloped tastebuds. This also goes for wine. I will say upfront that I am no coffee (or wine) snob and that I believe people should drink what they enjoy. Having said that, over the fast few years, many cups of coffee (and glasses of wine) later, I have developed my own taste. I now drink dry red wine (which I never used to) and put minimal amounts of sugar in my coffee.
Anyway, if you would like to sample what I think is the best coffee in Johannesburg – or anywhere other than Ethiopia itself I guess – take yourself downtown to Elsa’s restaurant in the Johannesburg Mall on Jeppe Street. It is on the third floor (I think) and like many down-town places, you don’t go there for the decor. Order a macchiato or traditional coffee and prepare to depart earth and enter coffee heaven. What I loved the most about it was that it did not have any of the sourness or sour aftertaste that I find in some many coffees – even the good ones.
Oh and the food is amazing too. It was my first time having Ethiopian and I really loved it. Thank you to Namrata for taking me.
On Wednesday I was at home, bed bound by a neck spasm, but as a result lucky enough to enjoy the daytime. Lately I have been arriving at work when it is dark, and leaving when it is dark and it has been making me feel like some nocturnal creature.
Wednesday was also chilly and windy – and then the strangest thing happened. These dark clouds rolled in and it rained, albeit for 5 minutes. Still, it never rains at this time in Johannesburg and it was lovely to see those beautiful clouds that rarely adorn the winter highveld sky.
Saturday was the much anticipated public opening of the Wits Art Museum in Braamfontein – well at least much anticipated by me. After a delicious breakfast, Sazi and I headed there to have a look for ourselves (and went back later in the day with Mandy, Elizabeth and a bunch of other people). I have to say upfront that while I studied art at school, and art history in University, I am no fan of lengthy discussions about the meaning of a certain artwork. In fact, from having heard many such conversations, it is utterly impossible to discuss art in a gallery without sounding like a total douchebag (Go to the Tate Modern in London and listen to people if you don’t believe me).
But I love hanging around in galleries, being in the presence of art and creativity – and the fewer people, the better. Unfortunately – as could have been expected – WAM was pretty busy. It is a really beautiful space – a combination of big airy rooms and small and strange nooks and crannies. The one thing that struck me as odd for such a modern set-up was that next to the artworks they have these laminated sheets of A4 paper in a holder, which you have to put back after reading. I much prefer this to the audio recordings in most large galleries, but it did strike me as odd.
I definitely recommend a visit, especially if you can steal an hour or two during the week, when I am sure it will be quieter. For more details visit the website.