Originally, Jo Ractliffe's N1: every hundred kilometres (1996/99) comprised a photographic installation mounted at the Ibis Art Centre in Nieu-Bethesda in 1999 as part of her exhibition End of Time. This limited edition is a manifestation of the original project in a bound accordion format.
The N1 is South Africa’s main national road: from Cape Town it cuts a steady north-east passage across the Karoo up through Johannesburg and Pretoria, all the way to Musina and the Zimbabwe border. In January 1996, I took a drive from Johannesburg to Cape Town and back. I had recently acquired a Holga camera and as a way to test it, I decided to make an inventory of the road: a picture through the windscreen every hundred kilometres - a homage of sorts to John Baldessari and his work, The Backs of All the Trucks Passed While Driving from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, Calif., Sunday 20 Jan. 63.
On my return, somewhere between Beaufort West and Colesburg, I came upon three donkeys lying alongside the road - one in the gully, the other two further up the embankment against a fence. They had been shot. As I stood there, a car pulling a caravan passed by and I heard the loud sharp ‘bah’, like a gunshot, as a tire blew out. I watched the vehicle swerve and careen down the road until it disappeared into the distance. Everything was still and quiet again. But I felt strangely implicated in something - quite what, I was not sure. Like a strange real-life Barthes punctum, it ruptured the journey, disrupted my experiment. Back on the road, I forgot to check the mileage and missed the next 100-kilometre mark.
The 15-page hand-bound accordion book with an open spine is contained in a linen solander box.
Printed by Vincent van Graan
Bound by Heléne van Aswegen, TheBookWorkshop.co.za
Published by the artist | 2022
Artist's book | Edition of 5 + 1AP | Price: On request