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At home in Johannesburg? Rethinking cosmopolitanism through TJ/Double Negative, the Joint Project between David Goldblatt and Ivan Vladislavić

James Graham


This article examines the cosmopolitan character of TJ/Double Negative (2010) and argues that the prize-winning photography book, co-produced by the South African photographer David Goldblatt and writer and editor Ivan Vladislavić, is both a symptomatic expression of uneven development and a self-conscious interrogation of that unevenness. The book comprises two ‘parts’: Goldblatt’s iconic photographic series, TJ: Johannesburg Photographs 1948-2010, and Vladislavić’s novel Double Negative, a metafiction that refracts the story of modern Johannesburg – but also of Goldblatt’s career and the concomitant genre evolution of South African photojournalism from local ‘documentary’ to world-renowned ‘art’ – as it is reconstructed in TJ.  This experiment in interdiscursivity is significant not simply for being the first of its kind – ‘a unique event in publishing’, as the publisher contrasto declares in its marketing blurb - but rather because through this collaborative but also multi-modal venture a new mode of critical cosmopolitanism in world-literature might be discerned.


David Goldblatt; Ivan Vladislavić; world-literature; cosmopolitanism; art of the book

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The Johns Hopkins University Press

ISSN: 1920-1222

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