Monday, January 30, 2006

Post-apartheid carceral territoriality

What does a post-apartheid state in South Africa look like today?
In case you were wondering, no new magical system of political integration has swept through and dissolved those kinds of epic borders over night, nope, that's for sure. In fact, Robert points to the IRIN who claim "950,000 black South Africans have been illegally evicted from white owned farms in the 10 years since the end of apartheid - 200,000 more than were evicted during the final 10 years of the former regime."

The National Eviction Survey estimated roughly 1.75 million people have been evicted since 1985, and forced to migrate to the networks of squatter cities and the instant shanty metropolises that amazingly manage to go on reassembling themselves across the country. It certainly looks like Johannesburg's squatters are the builders of the future.

Well, to further illustrate evidence of an "apartheid-present", filmmaker Neill Blomkamp has produced a couple of short provocative videos that capture in a very surreal way some of the stark racial complexions of a post-apartheid carceral landscape, depicting a sort of projected urban alien enslavement through extra terrestrial refugees rioting in Joburg, tentacled energy siphoners and meat thieves, hospitalized bacteria victims (which conjures a brilliant cross between Elephant Man, Rubber Johnny, and Johnny Got His Gun), and video game-like robotic police hunting down squatters in a shanty impersonation of Boba Fett. Or, as The Observer captures well in this meaty article, "For a growing number of Afrikaners, the new South Africa is an alien world of squatters' camps and begging bowls ... mushrooming all over the country."

[Image: Soweto]

"Shanty towns often materialize on the outskirts of South Africa's cities over night: a single shack quickly multiplies to 10, until the once empty landscape is transformed into a sprawling network of corrugated iron dwellings for the poor." [IRIN]

"In predominantly white an urban environment this usually means living behind high walls and metal gates. More up-market homes are protected by razor wire, electrified fences, security guards, dogs and surveillance cameras." [The Observer]

[All images (except 'Soweto') were taken from 'Alive In Joburg' and 'Tempbot', produced by Neill Blomkamp (Spyfilms).]

Personally I am blown away by these images, like glimpsing a filmic spectrum of oversaturated military urbanism, a truly unreliable visual medium. I don't know, though, pretty visionary composite of genres, and the animation is used brilliantly, which you can see more of in his ultra clean Citroen commercial.

Neill Blomkamp's Videos: Alive in Joburg | Tempbot

Also see: Gated Communities in South Africa

(Thanks to Boing Boing and wmmna for the links)


Blogger Bryan Finoki said...

And don't miss Nike Crab defending its ground in this game of posturban football.

6:52 PM  

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