In much of her work, Svea Josephy, an associate professor at the University of Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Art, examines how urbanization can be explored through art. One of her most well-known exhibitions, “Satellite Cities,” explores the parallel between towns in South Africa and their namesake cities in other parts of the world: one photo set contrasts the National Library in Pristina, Kosovo, with the Kosovo settlement in Cape Town. “Blueprints,” a recent project, examines how cities are laid out and tries to probe the reasoning behind those decisions. While mapping the project, Josephy was able to clearly see the infrastructural barriers of segregation.
She spoke to CityLab about her work, urban planning in South Africa, and how art can help viewers think critically about cities.
Your previous work has also dealt with cities and spaces. Do you have a background in urban planning? Where did the interest in cities first spring from?
I have no background in urban planning. I studied fine art, first a BAFA and then an MAFA. I teach photography at the University of Cape Town. I have always been interested in the contructedness of photographs, and that led to thinking about construction in other ways. I have always been fascinated by maps and plans and how things on maps and plans represent other things, have symbolic value. I guess photographs operate the same way. Read more