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Apr 23 14


by Ismail Farouk

JHB626GP is a representation of Johannesburg city using a unique combination of digital photographs, video and archival film, and kinetic flash animations, which illuminate the urban rhythms of Johannesburg. The video not only deals with the historical legacy of gold mining and apartheid, it also highlights contemporary conflicts associated with the regulation of informal economic activity. Johannesburg like most developing cities globally is struggling with the contradictory goals of economic realignment and needs of the urban poor. JHB626GP attempts to highlight these contradictions and the endangered vibrancy of Johannesburg street life in the face of the enforced privatised city.

JHB626GP was produced for the Venice Architecture Biennale in collaboration with the London School of Economics and features original compositions by Johannesburg based electroacustic composer Dimitri Voudouris

Aug 20 10


by Ismail Farouk

MAK Center LA, Urban Future Manifestos from Robert Ransick on Vimeo.


The MAK Center has invited a number of respected thinkers to contribute a manifesto to the publication concluding the UFI Fellowship Program. Architects, urban planners, activists, and myriad other practitioners have begun to feel an urgent need to respond to the current and impending challenges of the urban environment.

Urban Future Manifestos is inspired by the MAK Urban Future Initiative Fellowship (UFI), launched by the MAK Center for Art and Architecture Los Angeles at the Schindler House in 2008. The UFI’s mission is to promote meaningful exchange between cultural thinkers from diverse nations in order to cultivate visionary conceptions of the urban future.

More info here:

Mar 10 10

We cannot Continue to Die like This

by Ismail Farouk

Title: We cannot Continue to Die like This
Year: 2007
Medium: Video Montage
Duration: 1min15sec
By: Babak Fakhamzadeh and Ismail Farouk


Avalon Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries in South Africa and is the final resting place of many political and cultural activists. The cemetery is about 170ha in size and is managed by the City of Johannesburg’s City Parks division. At the entrance to the cemetery, a memorial with the words, “Never Never Again” inscribed on it pays tribute to those who lost their lives in the Soweto uprisings of 1976.

Avalon Cemetery is facing severe pressure. With the death rate is increasing by 10% per year and more than 200 funerals occurring each weekend, the cemetery is running out of space. Compounding the problem is the Aids pandemic. With more than 6.5 million of the country’s 47 million people infected with HIV, demand for space is increasing. Every weekend, convoys of buses carrying mourners bring the Old Potchefstroom Road to a standstill. This has resulted in special traffic marshals being deployed to deal with the traffic congestion every weekend. Cremation is not considered appropriate for most people so City Parks are encouraging families to consider the “second burial” option, where several members of a family are buried in the same grave.

“We Cannot Continue to Die like this” is a short animated movie which responds to the pressures experienced by the cemetery because of the increase of funerals as a direct result of AIDS related deaths. The film frames the dense weekend funeral traffic in relationship to the 1976 memorial located at the entrance of the cemetery. This is done to bring about awareness to the current day struggle our society is experiencing. History is represented by the memorial to fallen heroes of 1976 – history will demand to know where our leaders are now, when this preventable disease continues to kill millions of people.

Mar 10 10

God’s Land

by Ismail Farouk

Highlands Hill in Yeoville is an important public space where African Indigenous religious practices dominate. This spiritual hill provides open space for hundreds of worshippers to gather in prayer on a daily basis.

Much of the religious activity occurs in contravention of the regulations set out by the city parks utility company who manage the space. City Parks have signposted the hill as a ‘no prayer’ zone. It seems the city does not recognize the inherent spiritual value of the space and often enforce the ‘no prayer’ regulation by threatening to arrest worshippers for loitering. Much of the hill is earmarked to be redeveloped as housing for inner city residents.

no gatherings

‘God’s Land’ attempts to bring much needed attention to the spatial justice issues being experienced on Highland’s Hill. By altering existing exclusionary signposts on the hill, the work attempts to point to the conflict between the spiritual needs of the local community vs. the needs of mainstream development.

Feb 11 10

Lecture: Informal Economies in Global Cities

by Ismail Farouk

Invite: Lecture Ismail Farouk - Ghent University

I’ve been invited by the University of Ghent to give a lecture exploring the importance of informal economies in global cities.

In the context of a visit and social-cultural project in Ledeberg Ghent, the lecture treats the importance of understanding informal economy, socio-cultural practices and interventions in urban renewal projects, and the links between cities in the Global South and North.

The lecture is a cooperation between the City of Ghent (Arts Department and the Office of North-South Co-operation), Africalia, Hogeschool Gent, Kask, and research groups MENARG en CRG at the Department of Third world Studies at the University of Ghent.

Jan 29 10

Planning for Chaos: African Cities Reader

by Ismail Farouk

hansa on friday

Below find a link to my visual essay, ‘Planning for Chaos: Urban Regeneration and the Struggle to Formalise Trolley Pushing Activity in Downtown Johannesburg’ – published in the African Cities Reader (2009):
read more…

Jan 12 10

Interactive Car Exhaust Sculpture: Official Photos

by Ismail Farouk


Installation built for the Johannesburg EM/Di verging Metropolis Exhibition,
Mendrisio Switzerland 2007

Jan 12 10

Ten Best International Multi-Platform Web 2.0 Projects of 2009 that Torque Documentary Form

by Ismail Farouk


By Patricia Zimmermann, professor of cinema, photography and media arts and codirector of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, Ithaca College

Original Story here

Top ten lists of commercial films, high end art exhibitions, and books from the big publishers jam the press and websites this time of year. I devour these lists and end up saving them for my Netflix queue and my travel reading. That said, I find myself a lot more energized by projects that jack me into thinking about archives, history, concepts, politics, real people, real struggles and documentary practice in new ways. And that seduce me to keep coming back to see what’s new. The projects on my list engage some common strategies: collaborative, interactive, merging the digital and the real, the urgent and the imaginative. These are not auteurist projects – they are convenings. And are alphabetical order, in no particular ranking of importance.

1.The Hub, by Witness (an NGO based in NYC)
A user-generated, issue-focused, easy-to-search portal for uploading videos from around the world documenting a staggering array of human rights including armed conflict, labor, children’s rights, prisons, sustainable development, discrimination, violence, health, women’s rights, humanitarian issues, justice. A model of ethical, collaborative, social media, where uploading and sharing means taking action and campaigning for real world change for real people, not avatars or products.

2. Iranian Social Protest on Facebook
The Zapatistas wrangled the internet for politics. 15 years later, the Iran protest movement has nabbed social media and grabbed attention for turning recent updates into something more than your favorite youtube video or latte hang out. Despite the US state department’s enthusiasm for toppling regimes by any digital means necessary, Facebook and blogs have rendered the separation between the local and the global inoperative. Check out the link above for news about the men in head scarves movement.

3. Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change, Nunuvut, Canada
From Zacharias Kunuk and Ian J. Mauro, an exciting, interactive web project the gathers centuries of Inuit knowledge by elders and hunters on climate change in the Arctic, featuring blogs, multimedia, raw footage, live internet shows and skype. Say farewell to Al Gore and his multimillion dollar power point films.

4.Post Secret, by Frank Warren
This community art project is simple: people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard. But the results are complex: condensations of psychic fissures and social relations. Images and words are posted on the blog daily. Several books have been published from this material and hit the NYT bestseller list. But it’s still a model of engagement worth taking a look at..and, according to its own website, it’s the largest advertising free blog in the world. Send one in. Noone will know it’s you.

5. Public Secret, USA, project conceived by Sharon Daniel in collaboration with Justice Now
A massive collaboration between digital artist Daniel, the Vectors Journal at USC, Justice Now, and incarcerated women. It explores gender, family, and the prison industrial complex with an elegant, spared down design that remaps our preconceptions all the first three. It also cuts through decades of documentary debate about images, victims and ethics with more clarity than most scholarly essays on the subject.

6. RMB City, China, by Cao Fei, aka in SL China Tracy
A project spanning RL (real life) and SL (Second Life) that satirizes overdevelopment and overbuilding in China through avatars and buildings in Second Life, and a web site promoting the RMB city including press releases, city channels, manifestos, maps, city views and a blog. Strapped for cash? You might want to book your next weekend getaway in RMB City…

7. Sarai, Delhi, India
The go-to hub in South Asia for cracking open the liminal zones between the digital and the real with the edgiest new media theory around, practical and concept-changing on the ground projects mapping urbanism, and endless innovations in convening people and ideas with art shows, editable and free CDs, books, audio, free software, publications, translations and dialogue across languages (Hindi and English), and cybermohallas (you gotta love it-exploring the alley ways and corners of communities and cities.)

8. Saving the Sierra, California, USA, project coordinated by Catherine Stifter and jesikah maria ross
A compelling, elegant, clear-sighted regional project chronicling the culture, economy and environment of the Sierra Nevada as it confronts development challenging sustainability. It marshalls public media, radio documentary, citizen storytelling, and story mapping. The multiple and diverse voices in this project as a mighty and awe inspiring as Yosemite, Lake Tahoe and the sequoias, the spectacles and cliches of the Sierras.

9. Soweto Uprisings, South Africa, project by Ismail Farouk and Babak Fakhamzadeh
An interactive website creating a living archive and new cartography of the student uprisings on June 16, 1976 with participants and people living in Soweto, with video mapping, blogs, routes that are tagged, Flickr projects for image uploading, comments on the maps of the routes.

10. Transborder Immigrant Tool, A Mexico/US border Disturbance Project by Ricardo Dominguez, Brett Stalbaum, Micha Cardenas, and Jason Najarro
A mind-blowing and controversy-igniting project where cell phones as digital coyotes meet phone apps meet GPS to help immigrants from Mexico cross the border. Before they’ve been built, they’ve generated a lot of blowback all ready. Start googling and find out what all the fuss is about. And then, start thinking apps and maps as a new media form.

Nov 10 09

Ivan Turok – Challenges for Densfication

by Ismail Farouk

Snail has posted a doc:

Please visit the ACC website for more info on the Central Citylab:
Oct 28 09

Stayin Alive in Joburg

by Ismail Farouk

Stayin Alive in Joburg is now available for download.
The full movie torrent is available here.
read more…