Leading South African author and journalist, Mark Gevisser, will use over a century of maps of Johannesburg as his Great Text in the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts’ Great Texts/Big Questions public lecture series.

“When I was a boy, in the 1970s, I used to play a game I have retro­actively called Dispatcher, for hours on end, using my parents’ street guide, Holmden’s Register of Johannesburg. Ring-bound with a blue cloth cover, its whimsical title and archaic typography conjured a nostalgia for less turbulent times – although I knew none of that, of course, aged seven or eight, when I found a whole world between its covers.”

Thus begins Mark Gevisser’s new book, Lost and Found in Johannesburg, and his engagement with his first “Great Text”. Through the game, he discovered apartheid: that the inaccessible township of Alexandra was but one page away from his comfortable suburban home, and that Soweto was not mapped at all. In Lost and Found in Johannesburg, Gevisser uses maps and photographs to plot his own path through his home city as he comes to social and sexual consciousness; in this lecture he will refer to over a century of maps of Johannesburg – reading his beloved but elusive home city through them, and his own identity against them.

Mark Gevisser is one of South Africa’s leading authors and journalists. Besides Lost and Found in Johannesburg, he is also the author of the prize-winning Thabo Mbeki: The Dream DeferredPortraits of Power: Profiles in a Changing South Africa and Defiant Desire: Gay and Lesbian Lives in Johannesburg, which he co-edited with Edwin Cameron. Gevisser is also a curator, who worked extensively at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, and a film-maker: his feature-length documentary, The Man Who Drove With Mandela, was awarded the Teddy Award for Best Documentary at the Berlin Film Festival in 1999.

His journalism has appeared in numerous international publications and journals including GrantaNew York TimesVogueWall Street JournalLos Angeles TimesForeign AffairsPublic CultureForeign Affairs and Art in America. He is currently an Open Society Fellow, working on a new book titled The Global Sexuality Frontier.

This lecture will take place on Monday 19 May at 17:30 at Hiddingh Hall, University of Cape Town (UCT) Hiddingh Campus, Orange Street, Cape Town; and is free. Refreshments will be served from 17:00; no booking is necessary. For more information, contact the GIPCA office on 021 480 7156 or fin-gipca@uct.ac.za.

Photo: James Oatway

Mark Gevisser audio recording available for download.

Venue: Hiddingh Hall

Address: Google Map UCT Hiddingh Campus, 31-37 Orange Street, Cape Town, 8001, Cape Town, Western Cape, 8001, South Africa