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by Inzajeano Latif
"It's a restless and settled city, whose own self-identity has always revolved around its vitality, its novelty, its Crassness, and its seemingly boundless opportunities and insatiable appetite for material gain. The fluid, chaotic quality of the city life in Johannesburg after apartheid is reflected in the unresolved tension between the overall plan of urban space and its specific details."- Martin J MurrayBeing born in Bradford and spending my teens in Tottenham, London I guess it’s not surprising that I saw parallels with Johannesburg. There’s something about the light in Tottenham. Even when it’s flat it has a luminosity to it and when the Suns out it’s completely captivating, you can taste it. Johannesburg was like this too but all the time. It revealed so much, things that would normally remain hidden and buried were illuminated and revealed. It filled me with a burning desire to photograph.I was told about a site that soon wouldn’t exist. Its replacement would be all new and shiny and would make space for the existing people inhabiting the space now. It sounded great, it sounded like Tottenham which was feeling the full force of gentrification, where the lives of its people are being replaced by shit they can’t even recognise.I was intrigued by the space, so we arranged a site visit. The site was in the old Central Business District of Jozi. It’s surrounding area bore similarities to Gotham City with its towering Euro - American architecture that screams whiteness but there’s nothing white about this space anymore and probably never was. The space within this space was literally a large hole in the ground about the size of two football fields. Life was on fire here, I could feel it. A micro city in all its glory filled with people like you and me who were simply trying to get ahead. Although the space wasn’t conducive to this, its inhabitants had a resilience about them, they wanted progress and in their own small way they were.We explored the space, we spoke to it. Its passers-by, its bus drivers, its butchers, its gamblers, its mechanics, its restaurateurs, its security guards, its runaways, its chancers and its playas. All that I knew in the world was here, in this See of the city.