You Have A New Message

What of Johannesburg’s many deaths – and what if these could speak?

What of Johannesburg’s many deaths – and what if these could speak? What ghosts would rise, what would they say about Johannesburg’s continuities – its political, economic, and ecological dormancies and relapses? Operating at a multitude of spatial layers, this project seeks to reveal unseen currents, seepages, damage and ecological alterations, emergent through Johannesburg’s mining landscapes. The project conjures a speculative imaginary, which attempts to simultaneously narrate both past and future, where lasting consequences of mining activities in Johannesburg become intertwined in the supernatural and economic.

As similarly observed in mining remnants found to the west of the city, the imaginary begins with land-scale registers of ground-radioactivity in the Village Main mine area. Transfusing northward through groundwater, it reaches the roots of a nearby impepho plantation. Burning of the crop some weeks later produces a lasting augmented potency. The impepho’s effects exponentially flourish. A spiritual network metastasises – a frequency of millions of voices, messages, and invocations exponentially growing – accessible through a small portal in Jeppestown, Johannesburg. The project traces the speculative by-product economy of this spatial and temporal anomaly through Kholwa’s enterprise: a micro-radio station owner on the fringes of Kwa Mai Mai market. She has acquired the ability to tap into this supernatural communication network using a massive transistor radio that she has set up on the roof of her shop. Kholwa regularly holds programming of various selected contributions by people ‘on the other side’ of Johannesburg. There are several other network-channels like her in the area. Adverts of their offerings are pasted to every visible concrete bin, bollard or electrical distribution box in Johannesburg. The presence of Johannesburg and its connected deceased remains perpetual, continuous, lasting – a chaotic yet profound archive of trauma adjacent to everyday Jo’burg life.

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