Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Firewalker

So after two days of writing about power outages and municipal strikes I landed myself an exquisitely lovely assignment today. It was one of those events that fills your heart with joy and restores all faith that there are indeed good things happening in this world.
I spent my morning on what was once a piece of raw red ground positioned at the city-end of the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. Recently it served as the area where drivers took their taxis to wash them down. Today it is a manicured garden on a piece of prime city real estate, criss-crossed by beautifully constructed pathways and home to Jozi's own Statue of Liberty if you will. Yes! I got to go to the unveiling of William Kentridge and Gerhard Marx's newest creation titled The Flamewalker.
It is a 10-metre high giant sculpture created in three dimensions out of positioned black and white sheets of steel all shooting out from a central scaffolding. The thing is, if you view it from one particular angle, it is a clear two-dimensional flat image showing a woman walking with a burning brazier on her head. Quite fantastic!
Taliban the photographer and I walked to this exclusive little get together. We muddled through messy streets riddled with the rubbish tossed there by striking municipal workers. We passed women selling 'smileys' - roasted sheeps heads cooked on braziers, who were the very inspiration behind this stunning new public artwork standing alongside one of the main routes into the city. And then suddenly we were at the elegant function where Jozi's arty set had gathered for this occasion.
I asked for my press pack immediately as I planned to file a piece for the afternoon paper, so had to work fast. No! That would not be possible at all, I was told by one of the PR women at the gate. I explained my situation, and she said I would be given one on my way out - even if I had to leave early. Ah well - I figured that there's some kind of hectic embargo in place. I missioned around as fast as I could and grabbed a quick one-on-one with both Kentridge and Marx and felt quite chuffed. But then I got seriously miffed when I realised that the American journalist standing near me was working from - yes oh yes - the media release. Obviously our crowd that were crying "rah rah Africa, Jozi is beautiful" were far more eager to help she of a yanky drawl than she of the local press!!
Anyway, I filed my piece on deadline, managing to quote Kentridge describing The Firewalker in his opening speech as: "a three-dimensional sculpture that in one way can be read as a two-dimensional flat image. But as you walk around it, it disintegrates into incoherent pieces".
CreativeDirector was quite taken with the image, which he felt was quite an apt way to describe himself.
C-for-Serious laughed hysterically in her agreement, photocopied the paragraph and stuck it on the notice board.
Ah, at last. My copy is now on public display. At least in my newsroom.


  1. personally, I think it disintegrates into incoherent pieces and stays there - have only seen pictures but I think they missed the mandate of collaboration on producing a sculpture.

    all that time and effort for that? mmmm

  2. And don't forget, it cost a million bucks! Money which, to my mind, could have been well used on council salaries and averted the strike which has left our city streets looking like rubbish tips!
    But anyway....

  3. I'll have to actually go and see it to understand what its supposed to look like...
    And I must admit that I am a little lost on why they spend so much money on beautification?