The idea for this book was first seeded in early 2008. Commissioned to shoot a housing project as part of an engineering company’s Corporate Responsibility Programme, I was asked if I ever took pictures of Cape Town and its surrounds for my own personal pleasure. Embarrassingly, I said no and was met with the response – “I suppose it is difficult to be a Prophet in your own city.” This statement has always stuck with me.
Eyes closed and I’m rocking dozily on my commute between Claremont and Woodstock. The global financial meltdown is responsible for me having to travel by train. Not a bad thing actually, as I now have time – twice a day – to reflect on anything I want.
I-Pod background music, the screech of the braking train, a gospel singer hoping for some spare change, tightly-packed sweaty bodies, perfume, cigarette breath, smelly deep-fried chips, businessmen and beggars, haves and have-nots, all riding the line side by side. This needed to be photographed!
The diversity and paradoxes of the Southern Line are glaring. The trains run through some of the most beautiful land and seascapes, yet some of the windows are too old to open, scratched and dirty, so that passengers can’t view the spectacular scenery. Affluent travellers page through international travel guides while blind evangelical singers squeeze between commuters hoping to hear the sound of coins dropping into their battered cups. Sometimes the trains run silently, empty enough to sprawl out on the seats. At other times, passengers hang onto the sides of the trains, squeeze between open doors and lodge between the carriages. At times punctual, and at others hopelessly late, stopping for no apparent reason between stations, frustrating the clueless commuters.