A City Refracted, both the title of this series and an apt description of Johannesburg. The young country of South Africa has a famously turbulent history, one that still influences much today.
The Rainbow Nation has left Apartheid behind and has taken its place as the economic powerhouse of the continent, however things are hardly perfect. South African photographer Graeme Williams has been documenting the shifting cultural and social problems the plague his home town of Johannesburg since before the first free election in 1994.
Williams past projects have drawn attention to the disparity between the high-minded ideal of equality in South Africa, and the reality in which the poor are just as poor and exploitation and poverty are still commonplace. The slums that housed millions before Nelson Mandelas release are still there and Williams is forced to hire a bodyguard when he ventures out of his house to take pictures.
‘The city’s increasing social polarisation have resulted in me being an outsider in a neighbourhood that is less than 10 minutes drive from my home. This has facilitated an opportunity to transform my engagement with the subject from the viewpoint of the local to that of the foreigner. Photographing in colour not only provides an immediate counterpoint to my earlier body of work, but also accentuates this untutored, snapshot-quality. Many of the images are blurred by movement or have a limited field of focus. The title reflects both the lack of racial integration within the city as well as the photographic approach.’
A City Refracted is a highly charged collection of images, full of stretching shadows and strange perspectives that foster a sense of unease and tension. His choice of subject consistently allude to the expanding problems that face South Africa as a nation, despite the obstacles that are behind it.
Also worth looking at is Graeme’s past series The Struggle for Democracy: 1989-1994
Via Mutant Space