Dragon City, Main Reef Road, Johannesburg, Gauteng, 2011.
From Dragon City, also known as China Mart, huge shipments of Chinese imports make their way to South African pavement stalls and markets. Chinese people have been present in South Africa for centuries. In May 1904, the first batch of 10,000 Chinese labourers arrived to work on the Witwatersrand gold mines after the end of the South African (Anglo-Boer) War, when there was a shortage of labour. They continued to arrive for the next four years and by 1908 their numbers totalled nearly 100,000.
Mpho, commercial sex worker, Rheeder Park, Welkom, Free State, 2012.
Hidden away in the bush and trees that grow near the mine dumps in the gold mining town of Welkom, Mpho lies in wait for her next client. She is 25 and works as a prostitute. Originally from Lesotho, she arrived in Welkom in 2011 and lives in Rheeder Park. She says, ‘I came to South Africa to find work. My clients are white men from town, mineworkers and Zama-Zama informal diggers.’ Mpho is fortunate to have had no bad experiences but her work colleagues paint a bleak picture. Many have been raped at gunpoint, robbed of their money and cellphones, and beaten. One of Mpho’s colleagues says, ‘We are not safe. We try our whole level best to do everything we can to survive in life, because we are struggling.’

Name: Ilan
Last Name: Godfrey
Country: China
Website: www.ilangodfrey.com
Nominated by: John Fleetwood

ABSTRACT

Mineral exploitation by means of cheap disposable labour has brought about national economic growth, making the mining industry the largest industrial sector in South Africa. ‘The mine’, irrespective of the minerals extracted, is central in understanding societal change across the country. This enabled me to channel my conception of the project into visual representations that gave agency to these forgotten communities. ‘Legacy of the Mine’ sets out to build a visual narrative that documents those whose lives and livelihoods have been destroyed by mining processes and the long-term environmental ramifications, to expose far-reaching neglect by successive governments and corporate bodies that have driven the mining industry and to explore how people have coped within their circumstances. Once a symbol of wealth and a formidable force in the development of South Africa, ‘the mine’ today reveals scars of neglect and decay and as such poses an irreversible threat to our society.

PORTFOLIO
PROJECT DESCRIPTION

Indigenous knowledge is embedded in the cultural and spiritual lives of many South Africans. 80% of the population rely on traditional medicine in various forms, collectively called Muti and its curative, preventive, protective or harmful powers whether of a medicinal or supernatural kind. Westernisation, colonialism, urbanisation, apartheid and the mergence of cross-cultural relations have brought into dispute the distinction between the traditional healer, witchcraft and the emergence of bogus healing practices. Acknowledging conventions of documentary photography and the principles of ethnography vs. medical science and how these can be reconfigured, I will venture into spaces that challenge our perception of what is truth and fiction. By photographing multiple layers that shroud this subject in secrecy and suspicion, medical style journals’ will incorporate resources and photographs, questioning the role of Muti within the urban and rural landscape and its influence on a country where tradition and modernity play hand in hand.