The stage as a spatial metaphor is concerned with the use of performance, spectacle, fantasy and subterfuge in urban space.

Everyday performances of selling and buying, living and commuting turn the built environment into multiple temporary stages: roof-tops turn into washing lines and bath-rooms; street corners are used by performers to promote gospel music; offices become churches over the weekend. Every aspect of the environment is involved in transactions and exchanges that themselves present mobile urban stages. The taxi-congested Twist Street, once a tram-line, is now in the process of being redeveloped as part of a Rapid Bus Transit route, which will in theory largely rid the street of taxis in the near future.

Most buildings are active on street level (shops), with the remaining floors either vacant, occupied by residents or squatters, or used as storage space for goods; some are used as clothing factories. The rule of ‘invisibility’ takes many disguises – forged passports, business licences, easily movable  stalls at corners, interior markets, dress codes, pick up points for middle-men awaiting the delivery of stolen goods. Salesmen on microphones at shop entrances have different styles to lure clients, supported by beat boxes that compete with the shop next door. The contrast between interior and exterior trade is characterized by the spatial sound divide  – the noise of the street and quieter hub of the indoor spaces.

In many buildings you will find strict rules for residents – access for visitors is restricted and controlled by security guards. Squatted buildings have their own ‘security’ and rental system, with gangs controlling the comings and goings. Hair salons become places for socializing, information distribution and business deals. Smoke and coffee rooms in ‘little Ethiopia’ are places of gathering for mainly male customers – this is also where the narcotic chat leaves are available. Buildings themselves ‘perform’ different parts in the workings of the city – during police raids on shops (looking for pirated labels and illegal 2010 World Cup goods) shops in buildings get locked down instantly.

bricked up building (bree st)/end st/jeppe st

bricked up building (bree st)/end st/jeppe st


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