Teach your children well with this artistic unfolding of SA’s ...

Ideas

Teach your children well with this artistic unfolding of SA’s terrible past

Goodman Gallery exhibition weaves together some of the biggest names in art to make sense of SA’s complexity

Chris Thurman

“I mean, as a parent, when do you tell your children how terrible this country is? How long can you keep them shielded from it?” 

This overheard coffee shop conversation promised to be a doozy. I had already paid my bill and had promises to keep; reluctantly, I left the well-meaning parents to their soul-searching. But the questions (and the assumptions underlying them) stayed with me as I drove through the streets of Johannesburg, watching the city thaw as the sun climbed higher, admiring how the winter light caught the litter bestrewing the pavements.  

Joburg has always had ugliness, brokenness and neglect in abundance, but now that it is creeping into even the tidiest suburbs, the narrative of decline has become pervasive among the city’s well-to-do denizens. This chimes with a national narrative of decay and general despair that, I daresay, informed the direction of my coffee shop companions’ dialogue...

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