Given the theme of A Divided City for a photography assignment, I set out to document scenes of Cape Town’s southern railway line. These images observe the ways in which modernity has impacted how people move through different spaces in their every day lives.
The legacy of Apartheid is still visible in the geographical landscape of Cape Town as the poor continue to live in the urban periphery, away from job opportunities and amenities of the city centre. The railway network of the City of Cape Town is a contentious space when current debates of infrastructure and lack of urban integration are considered. This is due to its nature in history as a physical separator of people – which was further enforced under Apartheid (“aparthood”). As an essential component for a diverse and fully functioning city such as Cape Town, the railway network has shown to deteriorate over the past years. This is visible in the increasing occurrences of train breakdowns, poorly maintained stations and in the ever-present threat of being robbed or assaulted as a commuter.
Despite these issues, the train can be seen a space which breaks barriers – where people of all walks of life come together. In light of its historical purposes, there is an irony of the train which highlights further disjunctions and divisions of the transport system itself and those who use it.
I sought to capture the forms of movement surrounding Cape Town’s southern line railway which has stations in affluent Muizenberg, underprivileged Retreat and the buzzing Cape Town CBD. These images document how the lives of those in the middle and working classes intersect through their physical movements in familiar spaces while acknowledging the divisions that modernity creates.
The images include socio-economic, cultural and technological symbols alongside displayed body language which encapsulates an undefined and complex relationship between people, their environment and the every-day.
Words & images by Arron Moos