Marc ShoulSouth Africa - 1975
19 May - 07 Jul 2010
Johannesburg has always been a city of immigrants; a beacon for people searching for ‘gold’ in one form or another. Today, this sprawling and ambivalent metropolis continues to attract a constant stream of hopefuls from all over Africa. And many of these new arrivals settle in the Joburg inner city, which has become a hub for the entire sub-continent.
The result is a journey through a world that is sometimes dark, sometimes joyful, and always fascinating. Every picture tells a story and each image illuminates a place that is often misunderstood.
Indeed, the Joburg inner city is a complicated place that offers its citizens a densely populated landscape, filled with high-rise office buildings and apartments. Accommodation is cheap but basic, and this suits the waves of immigrants who move through these Flatlands. However, Johannesburg has an infectious momentum and relentless energy and drive. It’s the excitement that overpowers the fear. Streams of people walk the streets. Children go to school, taxi hooters echo off the buildings as they race to beat the amber light. Outside shops, MC’s call to customers through microphones, mixed to a distorted house music beat. Streets are congested with cars and people. Shops sell anything and everything. Everyone is watching their back but going forward. Shoul documented this new era of the Flatlands in post-Apartheid times – when the former white population has given way to a uniquely African cosmopolitan population. As such, the inner city is home to a huge mix of people and cultures squeezed so tightly together that the place is barely able to contain it all.
The Joburg CBD and its surrounding Flatlands were once compared to the great modern cities of the first world. Now it has taken on a significantly different character; it is a space of transience, a place on the way to something better, be it in South Africa or back at home. He also wanted to see how people are making their own way through this amazing matrix of crumbling buildings, while still holding onto the promise of a better future that Johannesburg offers.