JAG/SNAG 2011-2015




Camouflage and urban decay are themes that have informed the multimedia work of Stephen Hobbs since the mid nineties. At the core of Hobbs’ urban investigations in the public domain lies the contradictory and furtive city of Johannesburg. As Johannesburg serves as a laboratory for interrogation, experimentation, postulation, fantasy and desire, so too for artists and urbanists does the Johannesburg Art Gallery – present in its current state of self reimagining – a similar set of possibilities for questioning and projection. For many supporters of the gallery, the all too decrepit surrounds of Joubert Park represent far too much negativity for sustained visits. The state of neglect and crisis that this gallery constantly revisits presents for Hobbs a set of opportunities to intervene within the in-between spaces of the gallery’s interiors and in particular on its Northern façade, facing Joubert Park.

“A £1,000,000.00 eye research foundation may be established in Johannesburg at the present Municipal Art Gallery in Joubert Park. It would be as modern as any in the world.” (Rand Daily Mail December 22, 1960)

The lines and edges detectable between the pre 1986 Lutyens building and the Meyer, Piennaar Architects extension thereafter, raise questions about the nature of this fit. Indeed the shift in the original façade and its new volumes, plains and details, conceals a more contemporary set of building maintenance issues. In particular, and perhaps the most radical of which; the continuous leaking and flooding of basement levels and the associated damage caused. For Hobbs’ purposes the perceived gap between the old and the new building serves as a space of aesthetic and political questioning; with a view to designing and building a number of alternate conceptual and architectonic propositions.

Sunday Independent_Feature.pdf

Lutyens Gallery Scaff.pdf

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