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HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE LEAVING THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CITY IN THE WORLD?

Marco Lachi with texts by Olufemi Terry


How Does It Feel To Be Leaving The Most Beautiful City In The World? is a project on the beautiness of Cape Town by Marco Lachi with texts by Olufemi Terry


City Bowl - 2009


Dock, Waterfront - 2011


Signal Hill - 2010


Fresnaye district - 2010


The Cape Milners Hotel - 2009


Lerato, CBD - 2009


Stellenbosch - 2011


Dominique, Seapoint - 2011


Clifton - 2010


Noncedo, Seapoint - 2010


The Table Mountain - 2010


Llandudno - 2009


Fresnaye district - 2010


Fresnaye district - 2011


Fresnaye district - 2010


Fresnaye district - 2010


Clifton - 2009


Bantry Bay - 2009


CBD - 2009


Fresnaye district - 2010


Fresnaye district - 2010


Noordhoek - 2011


Noordhoek - 2011


Noordhoek - 2011


Noordhoek - 2011


COLOUREDS ARE NUTS BECAUSE: THEY HAVE NO FRONT TEETH AND EAT FISH LIKE THEY ARE TRYING TO DEPLETE THE OCEAN; THEY KNOW EXACTLY WHAT TIK IS; THEY LOVE MAKING LOVE AND LEAVE EVEN THE RANDIEST NEGRO EXHAUSTED

SO HOW DOES IT FEEL, HEY, TO BE LEAVING THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CITY IN THE WORLD?

I ATE SUSHI OFF A BLACK GIRL IN JOHANNESBURG. IN CAPE TOWN, I ATE IT OFF A WHITE GIRL. I WAS INTENDING TO EAT IT OFF AN INDIAN GIRL IN DURBAN

…A STRANGE BREED. IT’S THE MOUNTAIN AND THE SEA. PEOPLE DOWN HERE DON’T NEED HUMAN INTERACTION SO MUCH

ONCE YOUR PLACE GETS TOO BLACK, THE WHITES STOP COMING. AS A BUSINESSPERSON IN CAPE TOWN, THIS IS A SITUATION YOU CAN’T AFFORD. MAYBE IN JOBURG YOU CAN BECAUSE BLACKS BLING


In 2008, while living and studying in Cape Town, I heard, over and over, two observations about the city: it was a place of singular beauty, perhaps even the world’s most captivating city. Visitor and local alike seemed incapable of seeing other landscapes than the physical one, and some claimed that the city’s insularity was a result of the mystical, domineering influence of Table Mountain. The second perception, loosely related to the first, was that Cape Town was not an African city or, at least, not a “real African city.” I too once held these opinions, and had relocated to South Africa from Kenya drawn by the striking terrain, the possibility of anonymity, of going about on foot, and the allure of a Mediterranean sort of life. And yet, in one respect, Cape Town had seemed, even at the outset, an African, even a panAfrican city; while walking along Long Street, the city center’s main artery, I was liable to hear spoken Wolof, kiSwahili, Somali, Xhosa. The city’s beauty quickly became blurry because of the many proofs that Apartheid itself, rather than its legacy, remained in place. In restaurants and cafes, a three-tiered hierarchy endured: proprietors were white, the wait staff colored and the charwomen and busboys black. Over three and a half years, I vacillated between rejection of the words not an African city, and a sneaky sense that this summation was less glib than it sounded. And as I read Beautiful Ugly, South African academic Sarah Nuttall’s critique of the West’s fraught relationship to African art, I was struck by this title as a fitting description for Cape Town

itself, a shorthand for its intricate, unsettling cultural aesthetics. It wasn’t long before I gave up insisting that Cape Town was an African city and instead argued that it was a Creole one, like Santa Domingo, Basse Terre or Rio de Janeiro. Later, I revised this opinion also; sixty percent of its population may be coloured, but Cape Town’s past and its predilections render neat formulations like Creole city and European city equally hollow. In Latin America and in the Antilles, the Creole was a social intermediary, an embodied middle ground and the object of both “European” and “African” fantasy and aspiration. Whereas Apartheid effectively decreolized South Africa’s colored community, and it became just one among many tribes, useful primarily as a social and geographic buffer between blacks and whites. In Cape Town time and identity politics have further diminished the Creole’s historic raison d’être, and he has been forcibly recast in the role of dacoit, of brute. As the Cape Town poet Rustum Kozain has said: to a large segment of the city, I am a thief; to another segment, I am a racist. And Kozain’s eloquent claim does not even reckon with the status of blacks in the Western Cape. For a makwerekwere, a foreign black, Cape Town offers no natural constituency. I, on entering a restaurant, became invisible unless in the company of a white person. If, however, my companion happened to be white and female, I became not only visible, but a spectacle. The worst thus, of all worlds: utter oblivion or the stares of voyeurs.

CAPE TOWN’S NON-WHITES BECOME MORE AND MORE VISIBLE


“Reconciliation,” if it even occurred in Cape Town, has failed. For the present, what prevails, in a sort of uneasy social consensus, is a privileging of natural beauty over man-made sorts. Capetonians have consented to revere the mountain but will long disagree on whether straight hair is superior to kinky, or if kwaito trumps techno. And even as a Eurocentric aesthetic continues to predominate, a frantic, rearguard mood has become apparent among the city’s whites. With every passing summer, Cape Town’s non-whites become

more and more visible, assertive and numerous. It’s not difficult to envision the city as it appears through feverish eyes: a citadel under siege, a dwindling outpost of civilization. And there’s no doubt where the ultimate stand in defense of the old life will—must—be made: the slopes of Table Mountain. As one local told a newspaper reporter, “People have come to accept that you can be mugged in town or on the road but the mountain is somehow seen as sacrosanct. For me as a Buddhist it’s my temple, my soul food.”


I RELOCATED TO SOUTH AFRICA DRAWN BY THE LANDSCAPE’S STRIKING BEAUTY

TWO MEN HAVE BEEN ARRESTED AND FACE CHARGES OF ANIMAL CRUELTY FOR ALLEGEDLY ALLOWING THEIR TWO PIT-BULL DOGS TO ATTACK A 20-YEAR-OLD BABOON [ERIC] IN FULL VIEW OF… ONLOOKERS IN KOMMETJIE

EVERY TIME I START GETTING CLOSE TO A BLACK PERSON I GET SUSPICIOUS THAT I’M BEING FRIENDLY ONLY BECAUSE THEY’RE BLACK AND IT MAKES ME PULL BACK

ZULA [NIGHT CLUB] IS WHERE THE EXPAT GIRLS GO, YOU KNOW DUTCHIES AND THE NORWEGIANS, TO FIND A BROTHER

A LONG LOST FRIEND ARRIVED AND HIS NICK-NAME WAS, YES YOU GUESSED IT, KAFFIRTJIEBLOU, LITERAL… TRANSLATION, “BLUE-BLACK PERSON”


MARCO LACHI was born in Italy, he’s lived and worked as freelance photographer in South Africa from 2008 until 2011. How does it feel‌ is a series of images based on his experiences living in Cape Town.

OLUFEMI TERRY has published fiction, poetry, and nonfiction in several publications, among them Chimurenga and Guernica. His short story Stickfighting Days won the 2010 Caine Prize for African Writing. He lives in Southwest Germany and is at work on a novel.


How Does It Feel To Be Leaving The Most Beautiful City In The World? Published by Documentary Platform Editions n. 002 Book size — 20 x 26,5 cm Typefont — Bell MT Std, Brauer Neue Paper — Favini Burano 250 g/m2, Munken Lynx 130 g/m2 Printed by Tipografia Morandi, Italy Edition of 250 Book design by Alessandro Cavallini 2013 © Marco Lachi, Olufemi Terry ISBN 978-88-905304-1-8 www.marcolachi.com www.documentaryplatform.com


Documentary Platform is a visual research project concerning contemporary landscape, social landscape and territory. Through the construction of an archive, visual correspondences are enabled, instigating reflections on reality. Photography, as aware observation of transformations and widespread practice of appropriation, may play an ethical and even political role in learning how to view contemporary society.


How does it feel_Documentary Platform Editions  

“How does it feel to be leaving the most beautiful city in the world ?” Is a project of text and images that examines perceptions of CapeTow...

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