On first impressions, the South Africa left behind by Nelson Mandela in 2014 looks very different to the South Africa he presided over in the 1990s – but how much has this troubled nation’s landscape really changed? Tasking themselves with examining its fault lines and fractures are three native photographers: Sean Metelerkamp, Sipho Mpongo and Wikus de Wet. The trio are embarking on the Twenty Journey project – exploring the current state of the nation they call home, cameras in hand, in a campervan.
Metelerkamp, an Englishman from Knysna, is used to collaborative projects – most will know him from his radical work with South African zef-lords Die Antwoord. His collaborators on Twenty Journey, however, are representative of the diversity of the people and places the project aims to explore. What's more, their varied backgrounds are a boon in a nation where access to certain areas can still be off-limits if your skin is the wrong colour. As Metelerkamp explains, “I’m a white Englishman from a hippy seaside dwelling, Wikus is a white Afrikaner from a conservative dry landscape and Sipho is a black Xhosa from a rural mystical homestead. In documentary, access is half the battle.”
In a project so focused with reflecting upon the country’s history, the question remains: why now? With Nelson Mandela’s death and the anniversary of 20 years of democracy, Metelerkamp believes that 2014 represents the dawn of a new chapter for South Africa. “The three of us are not interested in the feel good images that have obscured reality in this Rainbow Nation for the past 20 years. We're seeking the truth.” Effusive on the project’s role in recording South Africa’s past and present, he is a little more obscure as to his hopes for its future, “We will have to wait and see". Intrigued? Us too – support the Kickstarter to help fund Twenty Journey and track their progress here.
Follow Claire Healy on Twitter here @clairehly