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The Mobile City is an aluminium sculpture weighing 2.5 tons. It hangs from a concrete beam in the roof of ABSA's Towers North building in Johannesburg. The sculpture rotates, rises and falls past five floors in the north atrium. ABSA built its headquarters in the largely neglected central business district and this influenced the artist's original concept.


The Mobile City depicts building in Johannesburg, its surrounding landscapes and highways. In the mobile, the city of Johannesburg is divided into two cities, each with a substructure of mines beneath. One city delineates the older buildings of Johannesburg and is intended to refer to the present. The two cities establish a relationship between past and present, between time and memory.

The longest component of the Mobile City is an 11 meter long curved ladder and tubular ring, 4.5 meters in diameter, within which the "New City" sways. A smaller similarly curved ladder and ring is attached vertically wo the main ladder above, where the "Old City" osillates within the 3.5 meter diameter ring. The suspension ladder carries the motor mechanism and the entire mass of the Mobile City sculpture.


The physical movement of the mobiel become a visual metaphoe for the passage of time. Cyclical action and balance are crucial aspects of the Mobile City, where complete equilibrium is attaned by reconciling weights and stresses.


The imagery featured in the Mobile City relates to the social, economic, political and historical aspects of each building. The view of the mobile with its cities, buildings, substructures of mines, landscapes, rings and ladders changes, with slow but continual vertical and rotational movement. Structural elements appear to go in and out of focus, as does time and memory.

Mobile City

  • Collaborators: Susan Woolf, Lewis Levin & Paul Cawood

    Media: Aluminium

    Size: 11m by 4.5m

    Created:  2000

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