Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Spirit of District Six: 32 Interesting Black and White Photographs Capture Everyday Life of Cape Town, South Africa in 1970

Now in his 70s, the South African photographer Cloete Breytenbach began working as a journalist on an Afrikaans-language newspaper in Cape Town in 1951 and went on to an international career. But Cape Town remained his home base, and “District Six,” his moving series of photographs at White Box, is set there.

District Six was the name of an area that was Dutch colonial farmland in the 18th century and by the 20th had become a lively part of Cape Town. Its population was racially and ethnically mixed, but most of its real estate was controlled by absentee white landlords who over the years let the working-class neighborhood fall into decay. By the 1960s it had become seriously run-down and an embarrassment to nearby “white” Cape Town.

In 1966, under apartheid, the city declared District Six to be an official white area. As a result, virtually the entire population was forced out and moved, some far from the city. In the late 1970s, when the neighborhood was finally empty, the governmentbrought in bulldozers and leveled it.

Mr. Breytenbach took the photographs in this show during the years of transition, when the neighborhood, though in poor repair, was vital and busy. He documented the everyday life of the cultures that mingled there in images of religious ceremonies, social events, markets and domestic interiors. The pictures, seen one by one, are not remarkable, but collectively and in the context of their history, they are. (via The New York Times)

Shy young girl and not so shy pet regard the camera with interest, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

Eaton Place. Although in a ramshackle state, the Victorian style buildings still reminded the observer of times gone past, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

Rope skipping in Upper Ashley Street (now named Blinde Street), District Six, Cape Town, South Africa. These quaint cottages survived the bulldozers and have, since, been turned into upmarket townhouses.

One of the most prominent landmarks in District Six was the 'seven steps' - a popular meeting place for gangs and locals alike.

Catching a ride on the back of a passing vehicle made for great entertainment, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

Street celebrations, District Six.

Sunday was show off day for the teenagers. That was when their best and latest finery were paraded on street or at meetings, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

This impromptu sign greeted visitors on entering the area, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

This friendly group ventured outside in Kent Street to oblige the photographer, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

Hawkers' barrows, District Six Hawking fresh vegetables, fruit, or fish, was big business in the area, and beyond. When not in use, hawkers' barrows were stashed along pavements. The wheels were removed to prevent unauthorised use or theft by rivals, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

Residents walking down Richmond Street in District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

Men socialising around the piano, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.


Late afternoon shadows, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

Not the most impressive facade, but this was home for more than one family, crammed into small rooms, and sharing whatever facilities were available which, in general, were extremely insufficient, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

Give a man a guitar and he will entertain anyone who cares to stop and listen, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

The old fish market in Hanover Street, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

Khalifa is a test of faith in the power of mind over matter, District Six, South Africa. This mysterious ritual is performed on special occasions, among select groups or, by special arrangement, at public functions. The slashing of swords against forearms, or drawn across tongues and stomachs, without any show of blood, will forever mystify the observer.

Cape Minstrels, District Six.

Interior of a home in District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

Young boys performing Khalifa, District Six.

Some of the street gangs made sure their territories were well marked, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

On Clifton Street, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

Hawking fresh vegetables, fruit, or fish, was big business in the area, and beyond. When not in use, hawkers' barrows were stashed along pavements. The wheels were removed to prevent unauthorised use or theft by rivals. District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

Using a pavement for a game of fox and geese made for great enjoyment, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

Residential neighbourhood of District Six before it was cleared in the late 1960s, Cape Town.

Some of the buildings in the area retained character and sturdiness, and could have been saved. Alas, no reprieve was shown. District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

A cultural group, named the Eoan group, was formed among the mainly coloured community. For many years, the organisation entertained the public with ballet performances, operas and plays. Putting one of his tenors through his paces, during a break in building stage props, is director Joseph Manca. District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

Cape Minstrels parade, District Six.

An old inhabitant of District Six keeps her ailing husband company in a bedroom of her daughter's house, Cape Town, South Africa.

Residents of District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

Walled in backyards became more prominent once exposed by the demolishing squads, District Six, Cape Town, South Africa.

No comments:

Post a Comment