This is one of the homes in the hostel where police were quelling protest with rubber bullets. The protest was about a lack of basic services for the residents, such as sanitation and building renovations as some of the buildings are literally falling apart. This, to my estimate, was one of the biggest risks as some of these homes housed entire families with small children.
Police fire rubber bullets at protesters at a hostel in Soweto. The protest had started in the morning with the hostel residents standing by the stop-sign (in the second image). However, around midday, when they piled rocks on the streets, the police began shooting indiscriminately at the crowd.
I had intended to take a landscape picture of Johannesburg (North) from just above Houghton Estate but then I saw this man looking out at the landscape (it’s just behind me in this picture) and I thought that he made a perfect representation of a picture of the wide Johannesburg landscape from this point-of-view.
“Same Mdluli is an artist, arts administrator, and writer living in Johannesburg. She has recently completed her PhD in Art History at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg”
When tasked to do a photo essay on symbols of ‘hope’ I ended up at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg. This site, known during apartheid as ‘Number 4’, is where many anti-apartheid activists were incarcerated, tortured and humiliated for fighting for a free South Africa against Afrikaner Nationalism/Fascism. Ironically, when Paul Kruger built it in 1896 he had done so precisely to protect South Africa from British imperialism. On the day I visit the precinct I find uniformed children on a school excursion; they are excited. It’s their first time at the precinct and they can’t wait to climb on the chairs of the bar in the constitutional court. They understand little of what the constitution is all about but they know that it protects them somehow and they are here to meet it. I thought that there was nothing more hopeful than that.
The new and improved Braamfontein is a home to a vibrant artisanal culture that caters to an upwardly mobile youth who think nothing of paying R22.00 for a latte or R 65.00 for a burger. The area is possibly a model of successful gentrification in the Johannesburg CBD.
Behind this hip facade, however, lurks the world which hardly makes it to the tourist brochures and the ‘come invest in Braamfotein’s regeneration’ pamphlets. This is the world of the homeless who are also in Braam trying to eke out a living from whatever scraps of residue from the artisanal economy.
For this project, I refrain from showing the faces but rather focus on the open, often hard surfaces, on which they will spend their evenings this winter.
In this way, the project seeks to show what the regeneration project hides very well.