Blog: 60+ Queer, Old Joburg

By Jonathan Cane 

Our SeaM pilot project focuses on ten, queer Joburgers who are 60+. We are primarily using oral histories to explore how participants understood and engaged with space both during and after apartheid. These oral histories explicitly acknowledge their nested connection with the archival material of Mark Gevisser held at GALA (Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action) and the potential for extending that body of work.
In addition to these life histories, we are collecting different forms of visual material: interior and landscape photography taken by the project team; the photographs and ephemera donated by participants and others, and the archival imagery mined from GALA’s archives and other historical sources. In addition, we are making cartographies, experimenting with collaborative mapping, using tours, and collating the most up-to-date inventory of addresses LGBTI spaces in Joburg’s history.
The current phase revolves around the creation of a digital archival platform. This raises questions like: 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?  How does the digital archive work against incompleteness? How can we attempt to embrace an experimental, queer way of dealing with ‘data’?
Below are examples design experimentation focussing on queer locations in Joburg CBD between 1960-1993. The current focus is on a famous club called The Dungeon or the Big D.

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