Jonathan Cane
















Cruising the Transvaal

Cruising the Transvaal responds to the queerer aspects of Malcomess and Kreutzfeldt’s Benjaminian ‘stroll’ in Not No Place: Johannesburg. Fragments of Spaces and Times (2013) and contributes to an unfinished, tentative and thoroughly un-objective encyclopaedia of the city. My concern is with what could be called queer spaces in the Transvaal between 1886-1994. Some of these were ‘gay’ spaces in the sense that they supported (mostly) secretive communities of homosexuals, for instance in bars like Mandy’s, Champions, The Factory, The Skyline; sex clubs like the London Health Clinic; cruising and cottaging spots like Zoo Lake, Joubert Park, the Rose Gardens and Park Station public toilets; and neighbourhoods like Forrest Town and Hillbrow. There are other spaces which I aim to catalogue and these are queer in other, sometimes less ‘gay’, ways. Here I’m interested in the pool—public and private. From the sexually charged men’s change-rooms at the Summit Club pool in Hillbrow, to an attempt at the archaeology of the ‘kidney-shaped’ domestic pool, I attempt swimming as a kind of flâneurie.
WITS CITY INSTITUTE, JOBURG 2017


Some Experiments in Forgetting or The Art of Getting Fucked in Medellin

On Un-Remembering or Forgetting Parties or We Drink and Forget or Against Doris or Playing Footsy Under The Table or Is That Tetrapack of Aquadiente in Your Pocket or Un-Focused Groups or Let’s Just Getting Fucked Rather. We drank ‘Guaro’/Aguardiente with young, smart, gay ‘boys’ and ate arepas and potatoes and talked about violence and trauma and nothing and cried and staggered home.
CAMPOS DE GUTIÉRREZ, COLOMBIA 2013

Essays, Reviews, Criticism, Travelogue

I like writing stuff and here it is. Food, architetcure, art, travel, design.


Flyover: An Ethnography

The bypasses occupy a central place in the geography of Joburg and has very seldom inspired anything in the people listening to 5 FM on it, eating vetkoek under it or peeing against it. With Zen Marie & Eugene Aries
SPIER CONTEMPORARY 2010 and ARCHITECTURE ZA 2010


This Is Not My House, Shame

When I was a small boy was ashamed of being gay. I knew I ought to be ashamed because of the things I made when I played: little houses, some- times with lighting, sometimes elaborate, often with custom furnishings, but always greeted with sadness and/or violence. The materials differed—sand, cardboard, Lego, paper, fabric off-cuts—but the feedback from my community seemed consistent: making homes is not what boys do. What I’m ashamed of now is that I stopped. I de-skilled myself and sought refuge in the secret (evidence-less) domain of words and ideas.
FAAP SAO PAULO 2014


Beton oerwoud

We were bored. We wanted to do something. Everyone else wanted to do something but didn’t. We did. We founded The Supreme Guardian Council and invite the design/craft industry in Joburg to contribute to thematic exhibition slash parties. Don’t take art too seriously. Don’t take art seriously at all. In fact: FUCK ART. With Kerry Friend.
THE SUPREME GUARDIAN COUNCIL, 2007

Het versamel

Verwoerd cannot be remembered, except underground, in fluorescent-lit storerooms, watched over by diligent white-coated ladies.
SPIER CONTEMPORARY, circa 2010


Foucault’s Children: An Examination

This is a film by two lecturers who make their living from theory.
These students are their students.
This examination is their examination.
With Zen Marie
SPIER CONTEMPORARY, 2010 and LOWAVE IN/FLUX DVD SERIES, 2013


The Mess

Novelist Kathryn White and myself opened The Mess (2010-2011), a so-called pop-up restaurant, in the pretty-dodgy, often dangerous, downtown Johannesburg, because, (a) no one had done that in South Africa before; (b) we were bored (even though Kate wrote and consulted in advertising, and I lectured full-time); (c) there were NO good restaurants in Joburg, at all; (d) I cooked (much) better than most people restaurants; and the clincher (e), we felt, in all earnestness, that we have some good ideas to share; we thought we knew how people should eat.

It wasn’t really a pop-up restaurant—no matter what the press thought. We served dinner once, sometimes twice a month, with no formal kitchen, in the street, on the roof, in a gallery, with no liquor license; we smoked, drank, flirted. At times patrons were rude to us (when people pay money for food they are not quite themselves), at times, we were rude. It was a mess. (That’s not a pun; we chose the name because of the double/triple entendres.) We served way too much meat; actually we served way too much food. Period. And because no one in South Africa uses words like ‘food curating’ and ‘eating design’, we said, we were running a ‘restaurant’. In the end, (a) we got ‘famous’; (b) we taught up a bunch of my uni students to cook, well; (c) we made 7,50 Rand (=0,5 Pounds) profit, for real; (d) we lost all faith in: (d.1) each other, (d.2) Food (with a Capital ‘F’), (d.3) meat especially, and (d.4) ‘fame’; and (e) we got burned (that’s a pun).

70 JUTA, WITS CONVOCATION HOUSE & SUBSTATION, MABONENG, CO-OP, 2010—2011