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Author Archives

Robyn Sassen

A freelance arts writer since 1998, I fell in love with the theatre as a toddler, proved rubbish as a ballerina: my starring role was as Mrs Pussy in Noddy as a seven-year-old, and earned my stripes as an academic in Fine Arts and Art History, in subsequent years. I write for a range of online and print publications, including the Sunday Times, the Mail & Guardian and artslink.co.za and was formerly the arts editor of the SA Jewish Report, a weekly newspaper with which I was associated for 16 years. This blog promises you new stories every week, be they reviews, profiles, news stories or features.

Kofifi drenched in violence

REPLETE WITH ITS jazz dives, camaraderie and poetry, its dinginess, brothels and gangs Sophiatown aka Kofifi was a suburb in Johannesburg that was an apartheid loophole until 1955. It was the one place in which black people could live in relative harmony with people of all colours, free […]

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Still Nouveau, but sexy

RECENTLY, THE CINEMA Nouveau complex at Rosebank Shopping Mall underwent a facelift. But this was no complicated structural reconfiguration. It looks, on a superficial level, almost the same, except for some nips and tucks and a bar which serves small meals around the corner. This is the wisdom […]

How to tell a story

THE WHIPLASH BRILLIANCE of Quentin Tarantino’s film Once upon a time … in Hollywood will leave you second guessing everything until the closing credits and then some; by and large, all of your predictions will be wrong. Constructed like a Greek tragedy, this essay on the faux realities […]

In love under a dangerous open sky

THE COMPLEX AND oft blood-stained plight of people with sexual proclivities that digress from hetero-norms has waxed and waned for centuries all over the world. Queer people have alternatively been persecuted, raped, murdered and deemed illegal in society, as they have been embraced and lionised, before the circle […]

RIP Oupa Koos: The artist who gave back

TEACHING ART HAS the power to shape lives. University of South Africa art academic and practicing artist Koos van der Watt was fiercely creative on so many different levels. Working with everything from printmaking and performance, filmmaking to music, he took his capacity to grow young artists seriously, […]

Blemished church, broken lesbians

THE NAUSEATING CLASH of religious dogmaticism and sexualities which contradict hetero-norms is not something new. If you look at the issue of sexuality more broadly and infuse it with an historical glance at the culture and persecution of so-called witches, it simmers and seethes there too. Young playwright […]

Purple songs to heal

IT TAKES A special kind of boldness and confidence to fill a traditional gallery space in a way that pushes its capacity and radically shifts its limits. This was something you may have seen in Igshaan Adams’s exhibition last September, as it is something you will experience with […]

Unbearable weight of beauty and brains

CAN YOU IMAGINE the damaging complexity of being deemed “the most beautiful woman in the world”? This was one of the descriptions that dogged the complicated life of Austrian born American bombshell Hedy Lamarr, who most certainly was more than just a pretty face. Less acknowledged than her […]