Titus Matiyane, Transnational Flâneur and Cartographer

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By crossing the borders of the self and the local in his depiction of cities and their surrounding areas in many different continents, Titus Matiyane challenges purist notions of identity.
Conceptually the artist claims familiarity with and ownership of these spaces, although his source material is not derived from photographs of actual visits to the various locations, but from commercial maps as sole reference. He has also not been in possession of a computer with internet facilities until November 2008. In essence, therefore, the artist is a cartographer of imagined spaces and a virtual flâneur of cities.
Although Matiyane is concerned with the depiction of place, he does not engage on any moral or socio-political level with his chosen subjects and remains aloof and nothing more than an observing spectator. The artist maintains a position of dissociation by ignoring the dire social realities in post-apartheid South Africa and sets up meaningful engagement with the virtual through restricting his formal and conceptual focus to surface structure and the picturesque. It remains a form of utopian gazing during which every Other city and place is perceived in revered manner.
Through the act of being empowered to depict any place in the world, the artist constructs his identity in the domain of the global self that utopianistically interacts with perceived spectacular environments. Matiyane’s transnational Othering consequently can be interpreted as ideological and utopian in nature and as becoming a form of romantic simulacrum and transcendence. I argue that, being immersed in the reproduction of imaginative reals, Matiyane becomes removed from his everyday existence and is flung into a transnational, global but artificial orbit of identity that flirts with borderlessness.


Keywords: Titus Matiyane, South African Art, Transnationalism, Identity, Flâneur, Imagined Space, Romantic Simulacrum
Stream: Other
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Prof. Elfriede Dreyer

Senior Lecturer, Department of Visual Arts, University of Pretoria
Pretoria, South Africa, South Africa

The topics of posthumanity, technoculture, Romanticism and utopia/dystopia are ongoing interests in Elfriede Dreyer’s practical and theoretical research. Besides the curating of several exhibitions she exhibited her own work widely, both locally and internationally. As an interdisciplinary arts scholar, she teaches and publishes in the fields of Fine Arts and Visual Communication at the University of Pretoria since March 2003 and before that at UNISA from 1990 to 2003. She was the recipient of several research grants and obtained qualifications in the fields of Fine Arts, Art History, Philosophy, French, Education, Music and Multimedia. She has set up international liaison in the field of Multimedia and is well known as an adjudicator for art competitions and as an external examiner in the disciplines of Fine Arts and Art History. She presented papers at several national and international conferences and chaired a few sessions.

Ref: A09P0386