Justin re-evaluates South Africa’s relationship with photography after a history of documentary realism in the country. His Cape Town based project, It Must Be Built from Ashes, challenges mainstream media representation of Mitchells Plain and the Cape Flats, creating an intimate social dialogue with communities and their youth. Mitchells Plain, on the outskirts of Cape Town, is a purpose-built relocation area that manifested following forced removals from Cape Town’s inner-city during the country’s apartheid regime. The area’s history and geographic location are significant for the construction of its identity; the project evaluates the notion of citizenship and place-related identity as a way of breaking down historical constructs to create a renewed visual economy and sense of permanence.
The social dialogue set up through It Must Be Built from Ashes visualises a critique of mainstream opinion surrounding youth and dominant sub-cultures prevalent on the Cape Flats. Through engagement with its youth, Justin’s work takes on the responsibility of constructing a more visually autonomous future for Mitchells Plain; overcoming preordained media representations and shifting the visual economy of the area. The diversity of Mitchells Plain is captured through nurturing relationships that explore interpretations of home and cultural identity — depicting children and young adults as they search for meaning in this world. The work confronts the ethics of viewership in South Africa and challenges our own relationship with the production of the post-colony; importantly, Justin’s work seeks to find his own sense of self in modern-day South Africa.
Being for the Other focuses on an unarmed, all-women anti-poaching unit combatting the proliferation of illegal wildlife trafficking in South Africa. The group was initiated as an educational response to discourage young people in local communities from entering the dangerous industry. Although drastic measures have recently been taken to deter poachers from infiltrating the reserves — including dehorning the rhino population — lack of employment opportunity in rural communities makes the quick money of poaching appealing. Justin’s work looks at the social aspects contributing to the perpetuation of poaching in South Africa, illustrating an alternative approach in tackling the complex, socially embedded issue.
Poaching syndicates are now operating with a sense of gangsterism in local communities; families suffer loss and the natural resources and livelihoods of future generations are increasingly in jeopardy. There is strong sentiment that people are rightfully reclaiming what is naturally theirs — the poaching mentality in South Africa contests historic colonial rule and land ownership as many have not benefited from land privatisation and the commodification of wildlife. Justin’s work gives a voice to the people affected by poaching, exploring communities’ history with land entitlement at a time when criticism of land claims in a post-colonial context is commonplace in South Africa.
Justin's work explores the relation between identity and a sense of belonging, reviewing the ethics of photographic practice and its impact for contemporary art in South Africa. His independent projects Being for the Other and It Must Be Built from Ashes reflect on his own relationship with South Africa's history in a post-colonial context. Justin's new work looks at the importance of the photographic archive for contextualising the image of history in contemporary contexts.
Photo Vogue Festival 'A Glitch in the System' — Group Show Milan
Through The Lens Collective Portrait Exhibition — Group Show Johannesburg
The Independent Photographer — Group Show Barcelona & Berlin
Life Framer — Group Show London & Milan
Lucie Foundation Photo Taken Grant — Shortlisted
Life Framer Youthhood — Shortlisted
Lucie Foundation MOPLA Analogue Portrait Project — Group Show Los Angeles
Talents of the Year — The Independent Photographer
It's Nice That
New European Photography — Fresh Eyes x GUP Magazine
Untitled — Curated by Henry Jay Kamara x Vibbar
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