sharp, sharp Johannesburg

La Gaîté Lyrique is a new Museum in Paris focused on Digital Cultures and Contemporary Music. In 2013, digital artist Tegan Bristow and I were invited to set up a new, live, and interactive iteration of the Johannesburg based Hotel Yeoville Project as part of the “sharp, sharp Johannesburg” show. It ran for two months, through October/November 2013 . Guylain Melki, signwriter/artist (originally from Kinshasa) wjo had worked with us on the frst version of this project in the Yeoville library, was the 3rd member of our creative team. Our Paris work was called “Extended Mirror Cafe” and we installed it into the social space – bar/café area of the museum. We set up a constant live feed (with IP camera’s) between La Gaîté Lyrique in Paris, and Kin Malebo in Yeoville, Johannesburg (a restaurant café/bar largely frequented by the Congolese Community). In this way, each space both mirrored and was constantly visually present for the other.

On Sundays this silent window opened up and we went ‘live’ in the following way: Our Paris photo booth used software that enabled the French audience to pose for photographs over which they could superimpose and type in a question for people in Johannesburg. “Posez Votre Question is where they started. We asked the audience in Paris to imagine Johannesburg, and every Sunday for 6 weeks, and in keeping with the shows’ curatorial themes (which shifted weekly), the audience in Johannesburg answered and discussed Parisian questions, which ranged from weather, love and French kisses to xenophobia, homosexuality, racism, and other very serious topics. Great and lively exchanges were had, and many questions were asked and answered.

Photos: © Laurent Emmanuel, Mark Lewis and Terry Kurgan

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