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Miniland (Mis)guided Tour

miniland3

Auteurs / Authors : Zen Marie, Naadira Patel, Wits School of Arts 3rd year Design & Drawing Students, Marie Fricout, Zakara Raitt, Vicky Wigzell

Description : Fake guided tour.  Joburg, Joburg, Joburg was a project staged at Santarama Miniland, in Rosettenville in the South of Johannesburg. It was a 5 month project (September 2012 – March 2012) initiated by VANSA called ARTCONNECT.The ARTConnect project/residency, launched in September 2011 by VANSA, set out to invite young creatives to participate in a series of workshops concerned with exploring new approaches to creative work in the public realm, and was specifically concerned with animating public spaces in parts of Johannesburg that fall outside of the established circuits for contemporary art. The participants in ARTConnect were Zakara Raitt and Victoria Wigzell, Sikhumbuzo Makandula, Fulufhelo Mobadi and Naadira Patel. The Miniland projects and interventions were done in collaboration with third year Design and Drawing students from the Wits School of Arts, and Fine Arts lecturers Zen Marie and Natasha Christopher, with a contribution by Marie Fricout (HEAR Strasbourg)

Axes de recherche / Research axes (Play/Urban)  : Theater of operations, Generate audiences

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In situ
Medium : Performance, Interventions
Genre : Non-fiction/ Fiction
Concept : Looking at the real and re-constructed versions of the real. history/landscape/time/mapping/
Participants : Anna Wahl, Danielle Khoury, Megan Mace
Durée / Duration : +- 20 minutes
Date: 10 March 2012
Ville / City : Johannnesburg, Wemmerpan
Questions :
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Analyse critique / Critical analysis : Using Jean Baudrillard’s text Simulacra and Simulation which looks towards critiquing the real. We worked with in a space( Mininland) which is a mini re-constructed version of Johannesburg.  Even though Johannesburg has been through many changes Miniland still remains the same, a dated version of what Johannesburg used to exist as. The signage that were placed next each building/landmark read in a very satirical manner. The signs did obviously did not stand a real historical representation of Johannesburg  just  like the building and structures at Miniland.
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Protocoles (collectif) d’action / (collective) Action protocols :
Looking back at the reconstructed version of Johannesburg and how almost ‘unreal ‘ the experience of being in Miniland is, we decided to created a (Mis)Guided Tour.Using the all the signs we created a method of blocking out certain information on each sign post that was in front of  a landmark.  Just as the creators of the signage have left out much important information, we wanted to make this more visible to the viewer. Showing that the information and the environment(Miniland) is actually any thing but a true and real representation of Johannesburg. We created the performance to stand a  real tour of Johannesburg, guided the audience in a serious manner,though the information that was given like the signs was jumbled and anything but real.

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Welcome to The Desert of The Real

<|You have now arrived in Miniland, in the same state as we found it when we first arrived. Please do not worry, a sense of disorientation and confusion is completely normal. Here in Santarama Miniland, parts of South Africa as well as historical events are re-represented in the form of miniature buildings and streets. This is the only place where Cape Town is a two-minute walk from Pretoria. You may come across some incongruity as buildings are the size of toys and people are the size of giants – when you get lost just look out for Michael Jackson, he’s a useful reference point …|>

– Excerpt from the introduction to <|(mis)guided tour – the (dis)simulated experience|>

 Take a Step Back. Fast Forward

Santrama Miniland. A <|tiny land of wonder|> just on the outskirts of the Johannesburg CBD, a time capsule of South Africa’s past. On first entry one is amazed by this Lilliputian version of South Africa. This childlike fascination, however, quickly gives way to a few hard-hitting realities: the South Africa it represents is stuck in the 1970s, but a 1970s without townships, without black people, save for the quaintly fabricated “Bantustans” perched on a hilltop.

It is a theme park, a fantasyland, an apartheid utopia, a mish mash of iconic characters, of multiple moments in South Africa’s history – Michael Jackson, King Kong and a rather daunting statue of Jan van Riebeeck with life-sized Dromedaris. It may not be a theme park in the way we understand Disneyland or other prominent “amusement parks” but it raises similar questions about how such spaces stand as markers of a specific place/time/political moment. Importantly, it raises the question of fantasy vs reality, suggests the ideal of the Panopticon. Space and time are compressed to give you a picture of the whole: bite-sized information in an afternoon stroll, or miniature-train ride.

Empire (Apartheid) State of Mind: The Map

Disjointed and disproportionate. Cape Town is next to Pretoria, Table Mountain … well they found a rock on a hill and added signage and some wires for a cable car; the Jan Smuts Airport building bears the clumsily painted name O.R. Tambo; Joburg is not Joburg, at least not a Joburg I have any reference to. Michael Jackson, ten metres high, donning the costume from his ’97 <|History Tour|> minus the embellishments.

This <|tiny land of wonder|>, an imaginative calculated mess, once set up as a fundraising strategy, has fallen into the abyss of the forgotten and discarded, not dissimilar to the old Shareworld Amusement Park. While its remains provide material to work with, it does not make interrogation or intervention easy.

What does this romantic landscape suggest about fantasy and reality? Is it a spectacle staged to convince us of a particular history/moment that is <|real|>? Is it a question of control? Is it the architect’s dream to shift/move/rotate/increase/decrease/include/remove and <|create|> the city as if one were playing with Lego blocks? Jean Baudrillard writes, “It is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges persist here and therein the deserts that are no longer those of the empire, but ours. The desert of the real itself …”1 What we have are the scraps, leftovers and traces of a supposed real, a miniature and problematic South African history.

If the map precedes the territory, or no longer relies on it, so that it is therefore not imitated, then perhaps it is not disingenuous for the displays and dioramas to be disproportionate and exaggerated, simulated, embodied, carrying a life and meaning beyond that of representation. Miniland is a non-linear and multi-perspectival psycho-geography. A Fantasy. “It is a hyperreal, produced from a radiating synthesis of combinatory models in a hyperspace without atmosphere.”2

The question of intervention then is a complex one, where does one begin to pick/pry/dissect/interrogate an imagined landscape, without disregard for the history we “know”? If Miniland has any relation to a supposed <|real|>, it is as murky as the water in which a fibreglass shark sits propped up, jaws wide open, front teeth missing. “Ha ha, hy’s van die Kaap af mos!” someone jokes. 

(The ARTConnect project/residency, launched in September 2011 by VANSA, set out to invite young creatives to participate in a series of workshops concerned with exploring new approaches to creative work in the public realm, and was specifically concerned with animating public spaces in parts of Johannesburg that fall outside of the established circuits for contemporary art. The participants in ARTConnect were Zakara Raitt and Victoria Wigzell, Sikhumbuzo Makandula, Fulufhelo Mobadi and Naadira Patel. The Miniland projects and interventions were done in collaboration with third year Design and Drawing students from the Wits School of Arts, and Fine Arts lecturers Zen Marie and Natasha Christopher.)

1. Jean Baudrillard, <|Simulacra and Simulation – I. The Precession of Simulacra|>. Translated by Sheil Faria Glaser, 1994: University of Michigan Press, page 1

2. Ibid., page 1

|Naadira Patel is an artist, curator and exhibitions coordinator at the Wits School of Arts, Johannesburg|>

 



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