Drone Photography Captures How Apartheid Has Shaped South African Cities

Drone Photography Captures How Apartheid Has Shaped South African Cities

Cape Town-based photographer Johnny Miller exposes the stark divide created by apartheid, exhibited in the architecture left behind

Kimberly B. Johnson
  • 6 july 2016

The institutional implementation of apartheid divided the country of Africa beginning in 1948 and lasted until 1994. For nearly 50 years, the country was divided by race, segregating resources and embedding inequality into the nation. Walls, buildings and factories were built to divide wealthy towns from the poor and in some cases, rickety tin shacks stand within earshot of wealthy estates. Cape Town-based photographer Johnny Miller took it upon himself to visually depict the stark economic divide in the country, creating a photo series surrounding the topic titled Unequal Scenes.

The body of work showcases aerial views of Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban photographed by drone. From above, it’s hard to ignore the patterns of apartheid and post-apartheid urban planning depicted throughout the architecture within the various cities.

After publishing his first aerial image on the topic to Facebook—taken of a poor town bordering Cape Town called Masiphumelele—Miller was initially met with feedback from people who felt the images unfairly represented the progress South Africa has made since the days of apartheid. After letting the image sit overnight, it was heavily shared and received nearly 200 comments conveying both positive and disapproving remarks. While controversial, the images are a quite objective and literal view of the inequalities that exist within the region. For some, the presence of Miller’s images forces a feeling of disdain, and for others, a mere feeling of recognition toward the realities surrounding the economic status of post-apartheid South Africa captured using the technological tools at our disposal.

Unequal Scenes

+drone photography
+economic divide

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