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“BRAKPAN” Brakpan a once-prosperous mining community, today there are pawnshops, roadhouses, mechanics, mini casinos and other day-to-day shops lining the two main roads that slice through the town. Brakpan is like going back in time; so many aspects of the town remind me of old images I have seen of South Africa. Despite all the changes in nearby Johannesburg, There is a lack of modern development. It’s all very simple and straight forward – almost transparent, and this transparency can be seen in the people too.
The town does not seem to have benefited from its gold rush glory days, which spanned between 1911 until the mid 1950’s. Today, the once flourishing mining town only pulls out a small portion of gold compared to what it used to generate, and some disused gold mines now only sell rubble.
“THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US”Over the last ten years I have been making pictures of someone very close to me, but it wasn’t until recently that I disclosed the photographs I have been making of the young man with cerebral palsy are of my twin brother Nick. By sharing who he is, I have seen first hand what suffering can do. It unites people in ways that other aspects of life cannot. When I meet someone who has a sibling that is sick or down on their luck, a friend or close relative who is ill, I hear the ache in their voice as they tell me their stories and express the guilt they feel as they watch the ones they love suffer. Then, almost always, they ask how Nick is doing. Sharing stories of suffering creates solidarity, and it makes us care more deeply for others. Nick’s brain surgery was completed in early 2010 and for the first time our family holds out hope that things might change for him. We now wait to see how his condition changes as the doctors continue to treat him over the coming year.
“DIANNA” This project is about Dianna, 76 years, who was born as Leonard. Only a few years ago she made the decision to live her life only as a woman, before that she appeared more secretly as a woman.
The series is about emerging from a secret life, ideals of beauty and about somebody’s search for identity.
It fascinates me what feelings can do to people, this is what I mainly research in my work. How are people shaping their lives and what is it that makes people live their lives in the way that they do? Emotion, fear, dreams and mostly sexuality are the themes that I relate to in my work. The theme of self-acceptance is perhaps one of the most important in my work also, because of my own search for sexual identity.
“GETTING TO OSTIA IS BEAUTIFUL” Ostia is a small town by the sea close to Rome. For collective imagination Ostia is the disreputable suburb where Pier Paolo Pasolini was murdered.
Now Ostia is changing face by inversion of the migration of people, it seems sometimes Malibu, sometimes Rio de Janeiro, sometimes a Norwegian fjord, sometimes the deepest American Midwest…
“MIDDLEMEN” In 2007, under increasing public pressure , the British government pledged assistance to its locally engaged staff in Iraq. These ordinary people are viewed as ‘collaborators’ by the fundamentalist militia. The Iraqis who have worked with the coalition forces since the 2003 invasion have been subjected to brutal reprisals. Their situation went largely ignored by the British press until a series of articles by Times journalist Deborah Haynes revealed the truth.
Their lives were changed irrevocably by what seemed to be a simple career choice: to become interpreters. They have left their friends, family and history behind them, in a volatile country to which they may never be able to return.
I spent the months between November 2010 and April 2011 interviewing and photographing three Iraqi staff who successfully applied for the LESAS. Middlemen documents their new lives in Glasgow, Scotland. It is a story of identity, culture, family, and loss.
“COUCHSURFIN’ THE WORLD” The series “couchsurfin’ the world” shows members of online hospitality communities like couchsurfin.org. The idea of this communities is to help different cultures to get closer by inviting strangers to stay with you in your home. For this series i was accompanying five different groups of travelers using the system of hospitality communities in africa, india, brazil, central asia, europe and the mother country of couchsurfing.org, the usa. The protagonists did have very different ethnical and personal backgrounds. They were traveling in very different ways and for various reasons. The people they visited were all formerly unknown strangers to them.
The images of the series couchsurfin’ the world are all taken in a journalistic way. They are not staged. The people appearing in them were chosen through the online hospitality communities to show what kind of people are using those institutions in which way for which reasons.
“URBAN QUILOMBO” This project is a testimony of a place that no longer exists.
Eight years ago dozens of families occupied the “Galpao da Araujo Barreto”, an abandoned chocolate factory in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. Prior to establishing in this place, these families lived throughout the dangerous streets of the city. They came together to seize this deserted factory, which lay in ruins, and they transformed it into a home. This vast sub culture within the greater city became one extended family. They created a microcosm in which the problems of drugs, prostitution and violence tackled with the support of the community. Today, life in a community is a form of revolution. Barreto was a place where the exchange of ideas, goods and services created a bond of identity that allowed the survival of its members in a society that marginalizes them. This community is a metaphor for a place where the tragic decomposition of human life combines perfectly with the magic realism of Latin America.