Marking Time, 2008-2013

"Abandoned structures exist within transformed landscapes. They remain as isolated monuments to bygone eras, although sometimes become adapted to current needs. New constructions in otherwise outdated spaces, similarly stand as solitary signposts, but point to what the future holds.

This uneasy mix of structural elements on the shifting South African landscape creates a melange of perceived opposites; the past, present and future, wealth and poverty, black and white, power and helplessness. These strange juxtapositions of elements can be seen as a reflection of the ‘state of the changing nation."
Graeme Williams

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Painting over the present, 2008-2013

"In this essay I have focused on the environments occupied by some of South Africa’s poorest people. It would seem that although wealth and power have shifted hands since the first democratic elections in 1994, many of the benefits of these shifts have failed to filter down to grassroots level.
The photographs focus on the interiors and exteriors of people’s homes. They are intentionally static in their composition in order to accentuate the minutiae of the occupants’ day-to-day dwelling places.
The bright colours captured in these photographs act as visual trinkets to momentarily distract the viewer from deeper harsh realities. However, although they encourage denial, they are also suggestive of resilience, hope and, sense of humanity that remains in these poverty-stricken communities.
These photographs were taken in small towns, townships and cities throughout South Africa."

Graeme Williams

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The Edge of Town, 2004-2007

"This essay, like a mosaic, is made up of fragments that I have collected as I moved within the spaces occupied by South Africa’s marginalized communities. These fragments build a picture of the challenges, changes, frustrations and joys experienced by people who are attempting to move from the shadows into the centre stage of South African life."
Graeme Williams

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The Inner city, 1989-1998

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In da city, 2012

"Johannesburg’s inner city has, since the mining town’s formation, served as the first stop for new arrivals. As such, it has always been vibrant and in a constant state of flux. I initially started photographing the area in the nineties when racial segregation laws were being lifted and black South Africans had begun moving from the outlying townships to the city. A monograph of my black and white images from that period, The Inner City, was published by Ravan Press in 2000.
During the past two decades, simultaneous to white people vacated the inner city,
the area has increasingly become home to new immigrants from all over Africa. Certain districts and blocks of flats are now dominated by Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalis, as well as immigrants from other countries.
Johannesburg is a unique city. It is made up of separate communities that differ greatly in terms of wealth, education, race and cultural background. The city is a stark reflection of the county’s social polarization and in many ways refutes the dream of a rainbow nation. For example, many residents living in the suburbs of Johannesburg have not ventured into the inner city since the mid-1990s and visa versa.
The reason for returning my attention to this area is not just to document external changes. The city’s increasing social polarizations have resulted in me being an outsider in a neighborhood 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. It has become necessary for me to hire a bodyguard in order to pursue my photographic work freely in this area."
Graeme Williams

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