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Breaking Culture

cover-imageOne of the dominant aesthetics in Johannesburg culture is a focus on cultural-identity – and what does it mean to be African in this gritty and cosmopolitan city. Boosted by optimism about the future, this trend has influenced not only the cityʼs arts and culture, but has also filtered into everyday life, influencing the way people dress, socialise and engage with their space. However, more and more cultural practitioners are finding this focus on the local and on cultural identity restrictive. Their work draws on globally circulating culture images, sounds and ideas, fuelled by increased impact of the internet on daily life.They see culture as a site of possibility, to create new identities, expressions, symbols and mythologies, which capture the complexity of Johannesburg in the early 21st century – beyond even the city as an afropolitian space, they view it as a futuristic world city. At the same time these artists are wary of the danger of commercialisation and being turned into brands – in fact one of the reasons they have moved away from a focus on locality is that work that is strongly associated with only one context can be co-opted by global capital.

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