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Trashing Johannesburg: Ponte City-as-archive of everyday loss

Charlton, Ed ORCID: 0000-0001-7563-9472 (2020) Trashing Johannesburg: Ponte City-as-archive of everyday loss. Cultural Geographies, 27 (2). 277 - 292. ISSN 1474-4740

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Identification Number: 10.1177/1474474019871636


Trash is rarely just trash. As cultural geography regularly insists, it is also often relational and resourceful, poetic even. It is, in short, a material of rich aesthetic and political value. But what of this relational geography is left when a space is cleaned up? What is lost? In Johannesburg, a city that has long prospered, spatially at least, through habitual cycles of rubbish and renewal, the impulse towards the sanitary has historically betrayed its tendency towards racial exclusion and erasure. As the city labours once again to clean up its self-image, I explore the everyday absence this pattern produces as well as the aesthetic interventions that this geography otherwise enables. In Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse’s part-visual, part-textual exhibition Ponte City (2014), I locate a mode of melancholy representation that gives creative, specifically archival form to the ordinary loss imposed upon Johannesburg’s tallest residential tower as part of its aborted redevelopment in 2007. In this, I attempt to reorient cultural geography’s attention away from the materiality of trash, reflecting, instead, on the allied abundance of its absence.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2019 The Author
Divisions: LSE Cities
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD100 Land Use
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 28 Aug 2019 11:24
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 02:49

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