Institute of Social Anthropology
Urban 'teksology': Ideological tensions in the making of a reputable/community arts centre in Johannesburg
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The aim of urban 'teksology' is to produce a knowledge of and in the city through the processes of its making, especially its social, aesthetic and discursive formations. To understand process, an 'teksology' starts at a small, somewhat bounded and fixed fieldsite, here an arts centre/heritage house.
Windybrow Pan-African Arts Centre was undergoing re-making and reopening during my fieldworks in 2017 and 2018. The house is from 1896 and thus one of the oldest standing buildings in Joburg. It is a colonial-styled former family mansion, turned officer's mess, boarding house, nurses' college, then theatre and at last Pan-African arts centre.
When studying something in (re-)making, it is clear that people and organisations work in micro-political ways to actualise their ideologies, dreams, values as well as self-identities. These are represented in discursive and aesthetic formations, especially at an arts centre, where everything constitutes a story, a symbol, an image or a performance. Concepts and aesthetics hold and make political tension readable/visible/sensible. They concretise processes of (re-)making.
In this presentation, I will show some of the ways that aesthetic formations portrayed the two main ideologies for the arts centre: egalitarianism and elitism. This is also concretised in the discursive formations of 'reputability' and 'community'.
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