Journal article

Johannesburg, 2nd Greatest City after Paris: reflections on photographing Hermann Kallenbach’s Johannesburg through the lens of Walter Benjamin’s Arcades in the age of digital reproduction

Publication Details

Author list: Josephy S

Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge): SSH Titles

Publication year: 2020

Journal: Critical African Studies

Volume number: 12

Issue number: 2

Start page: 186

End page: 202

Total number of pages: 17

ISSN: 2168-1392

eISSN: 2040-7211



This photographic essay traces the collaboration between an historian and a photographer in a collaborative ‘conversation’ – both visual and textual – as part of a broader project to reimage urban space in Johannesburg, South Africa. Titled JoziQuest, the project locates a series of architectures and heritage sites in the space of the city, and uses digital methods as a critical tool to explore both: through time and space, historical narrative and imagery, text and context. In this pilot phase, structures associated with the architect Hermann Kallenbach have been creatively ‘mapped’ through site visits and photographic recordings of the actual buildings, which exist in variety of conditions and contexts – some restored, others in ruin. Photographing Kallenbach's Johannesburg enabled us to discursively and visually trace these architectures and locations to a time of the city's extraordinary growth into the leading metropolis of the African continent. In drawing on Kallenbach's design work in relation to Walter Benjamin, and as a way of framing my photographic intervention, this visual essay seeks to show that Kallenbach's work can be made to act as a lens of sorts, enabling sets of understandings of the relationship between early Johannesburg and the post-apartheid city in 2018, to emerge.


Currently no objects available


Currently no objects available

Last updated on 2021-18-03 at 11:48