60+: Queer, Old Joburg

A living archive of older queer residents in Joburg.

“Cruising as archiving; archiving as cruising.”

60+: Queer, Old Joburg


This project is a collaborative design piece evolving out of the archival work from the ongoing Wits City Institute, GALA and SeaM: Security at the Margins (Wits/Edinburgh) project to document the life histories of older LGBTIQ residents of Joburg. The design piece is a collaboration between Jonathan Cane of the Wits City Institute and designers Mishka Naidoo and Andrea Hayes. We centre the ideas of marginality and queer people’s lives before the end of apartheid and are especially interested in older queer people who can present us with a kind of map, a living archive. How, for many of these queer people, did home and home making become constructed as a mode of safety, what objects and structures coded a place for articulating freedom? What parts of Johannesburg, which places, which intersections, which locations had meaning? By researching the spatial histories of aged LGBTIQ persons we hope to map the profound changes associated with decriminalisation, the end of apartheid and the ongoing struggle for safe spaces for queer flourishing.

The creation of a queer digital archive allows us to experiment with ‘cruising’ as an archival method, as digital practice and as process; exploring the use of the digital in order to collect, manage, process, analyse, share, protect, disseminate, store, access and organise. The proposal opens up a number of questions: How can a digital archival platform make material accessible to those who might not easily engage with and contribute to queer histories? What kinds of spatial representations and connections are made possible by web-based archiving? What is the generative capability for the digital arts in terms of building a queer archive? The first interview from this series is presented online here for Ellipses […]. It must be pointed out up front that as a single oral history of a Sunday morning drive through downtown Joburg it represents a particular journey through the city. That many queer people — mostqueer people — did not move around Joburg with such ease in the 70s and 80s — and still don’t — is a critical frame for the current project. Cruising has never been an equal mode of manoeuvre in the city or online.

Launch Project