Lay summary
Johannesburg has experienced a strong impact of urban and cultural change since the introduction of democracy, and many artists of the younger generation engage in these processes of change in the city. Based on different art histories (which are related to the history of Apartheid), they deal with urban change in their individual media and discourses. De-segregation, new segregations, migration, economic uncertainties, AIDS and crime are just a few of the topics which artists take up, partly replacing the resistance (and other) art of the preceding generation. But also the beauty, the unique history and the myths keep artists intrigued by the city of Johannesburg.The aims and strategies of the artists have, though, changed in the era of transformation: The questioning of identity, political commitment and immediate coming to terms with the past have increasingly given way to an engagement with complex social phenomena, psychological studies and a preoccupation with urban culture within a rapidly changing city.This examination of the changes in the metropolis by contemporary artists is the centre of this research project. Urban change is a highly prevailing topic, not only strongly experienced but also debated in the big cities of many African countries. Much has been written about these urban transformations, but only little research has been made in the way how these transformations are perceived and reflected by visual artists. The central questions of the research in Johannesburg may be resumed as follows: Is transformation “only” part of a programme in cultural and educational policy, or can it also be identified within the contemporary development of visual arts in Johannesburg? What forms, structures and aesthetics are peculiar to these “transformation/s in visual arts” and how are they related to the so called local, urban, national or “global” art history? And above all: How do the artists perceive and reflect urbanity and social change in Johannesburg within their work? A selection of artistic positions dealing with urban and social change in Johannesburg will be made, and a concept of diverse, historically influenced “art histories” will be considered. Crucial aspects are the artist's topics and strategies specifically in terms of a contemporary urban space, and its intrinsic potential of change.