by Leta Honegger, Rebekka Ammann, Yajie Gao, and Anna Zweifel
Experimenting with Publics Course in Cape Town, 2022

Over a period of six weeks, this "question mark" "repair" vocabulary evolved. The project was developed within an exchange semester at the University of Capetown at the ACC in the context of a seminar "Reparations". Four students of the Critical Urbanisms Master’s Program of the University of Basel engaged with the city of Cape Town in an immersive way. Different subthemes such as 'Knewnesses and Newesses', 'Looking Queerly', 'Trending and maintenance', 'Destruction, patchworks, and veneers' led the students through the journey of 'repairness' in a global Southern urban context. Within the 6 weeks, the vocabulary expanded, and the different roots, subjective understandings of the words as well as their partly subversive meanings depending on their use were discussed by the students and lecturers. Vocabulary was related to places walked and stories heard or experienced, as well as multi-layered meanings that emerged through that process. Words were constructed, their meaning expanded, transformed, deconstructed. The City of Cape Town is a very enriching site for such embodied research, then through all its complexity, (post)colonial and (post)apartheid stories and legacies the city can evolve into an urban over-theorized zone which remains mostly in books, written words and long. The choice of a kind of vocabulary box, reminiscent of learning foreign languages, for the final product of this interactive course, came from the students themselves. To do justice to the experiences of the course, one goal was to create a joint interactive product that would allow the viewer to relate words playfully and independently to each other as well as link the chosen locations with different vocabulary. The students have explored multi-layered meanings as well as the power of words within the course and hope that this will be continued by a user of their “repair-box” on new dimensions as well as an addition to the vocabulary is welcomed and hoped for, with the clear attitude that this is an unfinished, changeable vocabulary and therefore an unfinished product.