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Hangberg: The Other Side. Portrait of a Colored Community in South Africa

Just across the harbour from the relatively safe and affluent area I inhabit in Hout Bay, a suburb of Cape Town, is a colored community whose presence inspires both fear and awe amongst my fellow residents.

And the general relationship between the two communities is one driven mainly by mutual suspicion.

After 5 years in South Africa, I still can’t get used to the segregation along racial lines that continues to plague the country to this day. Hout Bay is a microcosm of that wider problem of racial division

The effect of these lingering preconceptions and prejudices of a pre-apartheid South Africa are everywhere intertwined in the landscape, and in the relationships between the people themselves in Hangberg

Inspired to break with these barriers of fear and prejudice I have spent 3 years inside the homes and lives of the colored community of Hangberg .  I wanted to see how the old style prejudices of a pre-independent South Africa and the extreme class and economic divisions in my home suburb and still so rampant in the country at large continue to impact on the people and landscape of the place and community.

For sure, some preconceptions are real and present. Hangberg is set against spectacular wind-swept mountainous scenery that all too often juxtaposes unsympathetically with the poverty and hardship that exists there and it is afflicted by all too familiar problems of crime and gangsterism

But looks as always can be deceiving. There is also a very different and more hidden narrative there as well. That of a strong sense of community and bond that unites its residents and that came as a surprise given all that I had heard before. The warmth and friendliness of its people stands testament to the futility of prejudice and fear that must be confronted once and for all if the Rainbow Nation is to truly move forward and break with its dark past.

Shooting in medium format, I have tried to give a more considered impression of all aspects of life visualising gangsters and pastors alike in the same manner and with the same approach. This is deeply premeditative in itself and a reaction and direct challenge to the casual prejudices borne out of social and economic divisions. An attempt to perceive a community as is and not through an outdated narrative that one hopes will soon be consigned to the dustbin of history.

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