Marcus Neustetter, Stephen Hobbs: The arts are instrumental in Johannesburg’s rejuvenation



Streaming Museum Founding Partner and Co-producer Marcus Neustetter and his collaborator Stephen Hobbs at The Trinity Session are based in the Johannesburg Maboneng Precinct (Place of Light) where varied multi media events are taking place. The Trinity Session is instrumental in the rejuvenation of the inner city of Johannesburg with public art projects, artists’ residencies and bringing the public together on regular occasions in open urban spaces and alternative architectural situations.


Their local partnership extends to the City of Johannesburg Arts Culture and Heritage, The Johannesburg Development Agency and private developments such as the Maboneng Precinct. Directed by Stephen Hobbs and Marcus Neustetter, The Trinity Session is a contemporary art production team that investigates the relationships between art and business, collaborative practice and network development.


Hobbs’ personal artistic interest lies in the urban environment and public art interventions, and Neustetter’s in the methods of observation, electronic arts and expanding virtual communities. The Trinity Session is strongly defined by its exchanges with Johannesburg, in relation to Africa and similar developed / developing world contexts. This position determines their attitude to local and global debates, networks and partnerships with a view to the survival and sustainability of the visual arts industries.


By acting as correspondents and consultants, and approaching the work process from a network and accommodation / exchange of information angle, the purpose of their working dynamic is to produce in a cross-platform multidisciplinary way with artists, institutions, brands and service providers.


Current key processes are focused on urban regeneration through public art, creativity as commodity through consultation processes, local industry strategies and development through relationships with cultural neighbours, international art networks and strategic global partnerships. Other recent processes include retail and art experiments and digital art development through digital network building.


Republic / re-publication


Exhibitions, projects and events at The Gallery Premises at the Johannesburg Civic Theatre were managed and curated by The Trinity Session from 2004 until 2008. The shift away from the gallery space to focus more exclusively on public space hails an important new phase in their collaborative artistic explorations. Although by no means newcomers to the environment of public space, The Trinity Session sees the move away from the traditional gallery environment as a move towards refining prior practice insofar as it would allow them to more effectively engage with the “re-publication” of the multi-layered fabric of life that exists in the public sphere of Johannesburg.


Apartheid encouraged the privatisation of public space, with the result that works from that era presupposed a non-existing consensus among the users of public space – rendering the work culturally exclusive. The Trinity Session’s work methodology, however, seeks to explore the public as a multi- and inter-cultural collection of representatives of various social groups and mentalities. In terms of their multi-tiered collaborative approach to the relationship between art and the community, they seek to build a platform of interaction between artists and society that can give rise to democratic expression in public space.


Their aim is not merely to create art in relation to urban development in the City of Johannesburg, but to challenge preconceived relationships between the artist and the public and to explore the networks that arise between art and the public space. The move also reflects a more focused integration of their personal artistic interests, as the public space now becomes aligned with the idea of the public domain in the virtual-community sense of the word. Taking its cue from the definition of the public domain (a space of exchange between different cultures and interests), public space – through the implementation of art – could now become a domain of exchange in its own right.


About Hobbs/Neustetter


Given the diverse natures of their solo careers, the collaborative work of Stephen Hobbs and Marcus Neustetter as Hobbs/Neustetter should be read in terms of cross-pollination or contamination. Their individual artistic interests in urban social change and exploration and mapping respectively have been fused into a shared vision through years of experimentation with the juxtaposition of hi- and lo-tech, dead and new media, mark-making and photography. By its very nature, contradiction demands a pursuit of beauty through a series of process-driven revelations rather than a singular, fixed outcome. Hobbs/Neustetter, through a shared fascination with invention and reinvention of visual metaphors, therefore capture in their work some of the properties associated with the memento mori, or a souvenir of the transient. These revelations raise questions about the representation of order, balance and security, especially within the context of the urban landscape, which is a recurring theme in their work. As artists they assert life as well as celebrate the inevitability of demise, which are always simultaneously at play in society and its urban structures.

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