Monday 27th October 2014
12 – 1pm
Level 4 Humanities Building,
Sandy Bay Campus
South Africa is a fascinating modernity – images of idyllic landscape matched with those
of cities and race relations that remain challenging, even twenty years after apartheid.
Johannesburg has the reputation of being a tough, if not impossible city. Certainly it has
edge, evident in extremely high levels of mobility and a sense of intensity higher than
other such cities, three CBDs, cities within and against the city. Its denizens need to deal
with this, but also with the fact that it is home: it is a place to be loved, not only loathed by
others at the safety of distance. Ivan Vladislavić is the most powerful of a new generation
of South African writers who, after and beyond Coetzee, see home in South Africaʼs cities
rather than in its outer landscapes. Vladislavićʼs figure wanders through the joys and
frustrations of Johannesburg, combining lightness of touch with power of insight into
being. His work reaches into built space, into architecture after apartheid, and enters the
labyrinth of the security culture which overwhelms everyday life in cities like Joburg.
Vladislavićʼs work delivers a critical sociology presented of everyday life in literary form. It
works tropes of humour and irony, more than romance or tragedy. The quality of his
writing is special, if not unique.
Vladislavićʼs works include The Restless Supermarket (2001); Double Negative (2010),
Portrait with Keys (2006), The Loss Library (2012) and A Labour of Moles (2011). He has
collaborated with and written on key visual arts, including painting, photography, and
architecture. For this event he will be joined in conversation by La Trobe sociologist Peter