Colleen Alborough 50 Stories 2010 | | Art in South Africa
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50 Stories 2010 | 12 Decades Hotel, Johannesburg

Artist Photo
Installation view at the 12 Decades Hotel, Johannesburg

The inspiration behind 50 stories is the history of the Carlton Centre and the prevailing contemporary influences of the decade from 1966 – 1976. This decade was one of the most eventful in South African history. Apartheid legislation was at its peak. South Africa was experiencing increasing isolation from the rest of the world, in politics, business, sport and culture. The struggle against apartheid was intensifying, with incidences of political protest and unrest spreading throughout the country. The government rigorously monitored the media and the dissemination of information within South Africa, and to the rest of the world. This included prohibiting television broadcast in South Africa until 1976. Many print media outlets (such as DRUM magazine, and newspapers such as The Star, The Rand Daily Mail and The Sunday Times) became voices of dissent, despite government censorship.

Amidst the political chaos and social constricts, there was a mood of hope embedded within the urgent desire for change. Searching for stories in historical sources that reflected racial integration and shifting attitudes inspired my research for 50 stories. Carlton Centre was a site around which I discovered such stories.

Carlton Centre opened in 1969 and was a central hub for entertainment and shopping for Jo'burgers as there were very few suburban malls. The 223 metre, 50-storey office tower was the largest building constructed in Johannesburg during this era. Many youths, both black and white, would socialise at the Carlton Centre. The Centre’s management found loopholes in apartheid legislation, which enabled people of different races to mix freely at the Centre’s facilities. The Centre became one of the only entertainment spots in Johannesburg where racial integration occurred.

50 stories explores the history of the Carlton Centre and the way of life in Johannesburg during this tumultuous decade in an effort to reveal stories of hope, courage and progress.

50 stories was originally commissioned for the 12 Decades Hotel

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