Magic Visions: An Online Exhibition by
The Centre for Visual Art, University of KwaZulu-Natal
“No Place Like Home”
The magic lantern slides are images taken, of South Africa by Dutch colonizers, in order to entice Dutch farmers to move to South Africa to “work the land”. The images of buildings fascinate me, and I was particularly drawn to the city halls and their clock towers.
The title of this series, “No Place Like Home”, is a play on the phrase made famous by ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’. I chose this as a title because it is my belief that the construction of the Cape Town City Hall, shown in slide 199, was to make Dutch colonizers feel as if they would still be in their homeland when they moved to South Africa. In order to convey this, I recontextualized images of the Amsterdam City Hall and Paris City Hall. City halls are significant as they signify community, but also power and order (social and legislative) – all things that would have been important to the potential settlers. Buildings of this kind comply to particular characteristics and architectural tropes, and therefore stand as recognizable social markers, and these images are therefore particularly well placed to frame South Africa as attractive and familiar in order to combat the notion of the Dark Continent.