CITY DESIRED BLOG

Cape Town Snapshots: Hopes and Concerns in the Mother City
Alexander Bryden
20 August 2015
A neighbourhood may be a symbol of oppression for one person, yet a bastion of opportunity for another. A house may elicit barely a passing thought to many but is the result of a life’s work for someone else

Living in New York City I am often struck by the notion that there are millions of different and unique versions of the city that I experience daily. When I came to Cape Town less than two months ago I realized how true that notion is for the millions of people who live and work in this city. A neighbourhood may be a symbol of oppression for one person, yet a bastion of opportunity for another. A house may elicit barely a passing thought to many but is the result of a life’s work for someone else. I hoped to discover some of these stories as a way of understanding this new place. Exploring Cape Town, I struck up conversations as often as possible and through chance encounters and small interactions I was able to see this city through their eyes, even if only for a moment. In an effort to document these interactions and stories I asked to take a portrait of them in the moment that I met them. While I took the photo I asked them to answer two simple questions, “what is your biggest concern?” and “what is your greatest hope?” I chose these questions because of their vagueness and individual interpretation. Some answered about personal life goals or fears, while others took the opportunity to express a grievance or an aspiration for their city and country. 
Many were immigrants who see Cape Town as a stop in the road leading to a better life, while others have been here for generations and spoke about the evolution of the city, particularly in the last twenty years. I believe the portrait and a quick glimpse at the hopes and concerns of the people I met provide a snapshot into one of the millions of stories found here in Cape Town. A father who wishes for a better life for his son in Gardens, a restaurant worker who desires to go back and finish school in Observatory, or a homeless man who simply wants a warm house and some food to eat in CBD. Through these and other stories I began to find patterns and emerging emotions, which present a small look into the collective psyche of the city itself.

By Alexander Bryden | Illustration by Blain van Rooyen

Uhlala phi? Uvela phi?
Common Ground: Exploring where the stories of four activists/organizers living in Cape Town connect?