Latitude -26.2041028 stands for the latitude of Johannesburg. The place where I take my photos. Each series tells a short story about the people who live and work here.
The series that I have selected for my first exhibition has emerged from a still current political issue: poverty as a cause of fleeing.
When more than a million people fled to Germany in 2015 and many citizens were involved to help them, I was very impressed. I was sure that I would help as well. Only at the time I was not in Germany, but lived in South Africa.
I followed the news over the Internet and on social media. Just a few months after the "Welcome Culture", which was also highly praised in South Africa, hatred began. Hate speech hit especially those who did not come from war zones to Germany. By the political rightists they have been called the parasitic of our social system, and that was one of the more innocuous descriptions. I was disgusted by these hate speakers because they seemed to come from those who have never really come into contact with poor and struggling people.
Would not every one of us, who is in an economically desperate situation choose the way to flee? If I have to work like a dog every day for a wage that´s just enough for surviving, would not I want to flee? If I am powerless against corruption, arbitrariness and laws that make life difficult for me and drive me into a hopeless situation, would not I want to flee? Is economic hardship not also an acceptable reason to flee?
In 2017, I had the opportunity to start to document the everyday lives of people in such a dire economic situation by taking photos from the 12th floor of a building in Johannesburg,
Out of the Shadow
To step out of the shadows of society and lead a better life is usually the wish of the economically weak.
How did this photo series come about? Here’s the story:
I wake up too soon. It's 5:43. From the street far below me loud noises are coming up. Incredibly many people are already on their way and their bodies cast long shadows on the asphalt. I am fascinated and start to take pictures. It's November 2017 and I'm finally back in Johannesburg after 6 months.
Every morning, a never-ending stream of pedestrians makes the way through the neighborhood. Crisscross the street suitcases, bags, goods of all kinds and garbage are transported. On the back, the head, in sacks, bundles, plastic bags, on carts and in shopping carts. I capture the daily lives of people who get up well before dawn to reach their often distant workplaces.
These are women and men who work as domestic workers in the richer suburbs of Johannesburg. They are assistants who work on the construction site or for street cleaning, as street vendors or garbage collectors. What unites them all is hard work and the pursuit of a better life.
On Sundays, the scenery on the street changes. The workers have their day off today. Early in the morning the "Sunday People" are already on the way. Dressed in white, green or blue, depending on which religious community they belong to and what function they have within the community. Throughout the day you hear sermons, prayers and singing. They recharge their batteries for the challenges of the next week.
Who does not attend the services, uses the time for housework. Sunday is also washing day. The smell of freshly laundered laundry has something homely about it. There, where laundry is hung to dry, you take care of yourself and others. Here the hope for a better life is not lost yet.
South Africa is fully schooled, but the quality of teaching, materials and buildings often leaves much to be desired. South Africa needs good schools that everyone can afford.
Education means enlightment, knowledge and understanding of each other and above all the prospect of a career that makes life more promising.
Education is the way out! Exit!
In January 2020, the complete series will be exhibited in the city hall of the City of Ingelheim am Rhein. Gallerists, institutions or art lovers who are interested in my photos, please contact me .
Likewise, I am pleased about sponsors who want to support me in financing the prints. If you would like to see more photos in the run-up to the exhibition, you can do so under Art Projects .
Thanks for reading this blog.