Since its encounter with European man, the history of South Africa has been a mired, often violent, and constantly changing one. From its discovery by the Portuguese in 1487 the southernmost tip of the African continent has been passed around from one pair of hands to another, some handling it lustily, crudely, looking for the riches of its earth, others searching for a more abstract power and the idea of empire, and others still on a fruitless quest for the new and exotic. The indigenous peoples who have inhabited that part of the world for more than 100,000 years, whose history is recorded in the living soil, have watched as their land was taken claim to by others. The latest episode in the history of South Africa, taking place within its physical borders as well as on a global stage, was the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The 19th World Cup descended upon the country of South Africa, bringing with it an unprecedented amount of development and media scrutiny. Six years of preparation by FIFA and the South African government went into hosting a sporting event that lasted one month. Construction costs for venues and infrastructure amounted to approximately 3.6 billion euros for the host nation, of which South Africa recouped 385 million euros, and FIFA, calling it a "a huge financial success for everybody, for Africa, for South Africa and for FIFA," gained around 2.5 billion euros. The six years of preparation included stories of corruption, political scandal, and eviction of thousands of people. The 2010 World Cup was heralded as an unmitigated media success, bringing about 2.6 billion viewers from over 70 countries to glimpse South Africa. The final match alone was watched by approximately 700 million people live. Yet since the 11th of July, 2010, the date of the final match, all mention of South Africa, or the multi-billion euro project has vanished, at least from a general, global consciousness.
As a photographer I am most interested in the idea of place. The physical environment that we humans inhabit becomes the platform for almost everything we go on to do. The space, or spaces that are constructed, divided, preserved and ruined become the silent stage upon which we live our lives. Yet I also believe that these spaces do speak, in their own way, through appearance and visuality, and through the surface and texture which hints at deeper things, which absorbs and repels in equal measure, almost non-mathematically, but intrinsically. In the case of the World Cup in South Africa, there was a one month period where the country was put under a global lens, focused in the eyes of billion of viewers worldwide, absorbing the intense pressure which comes from that. On the 11th of July, when 700 million people worldwide were beamed into a patch of land in Johannesburg to watch the final game, and that must have made a mark. It is my idea as a photographer to uncover those marks, to illustrate the impact of what was a huge global event played out in one small corner of the world, with all of the contradictions and speculations, and to explore how it fits into the historical, social, and cultural paradigm of South Africa. My main focus would be to explore how the South African people view their country post-World Cup, as I believe this is becoming a huge issue: how to look at yourself and your identity in the context of an ever-more globalized and interconnected world.
Another important aspect of my project is the connection with my native country, Poland. During the summer of 2012, Poland and Ukraine will host the European Football Championship, a continental version of the World Cup. In a European context, Poland plays a similar role to the one of South Africa on a global stage; economically somewhere in a hazy middle-ground of development, it is still socially quite accessible to westerners, as well as having the much-elevated and epic period of unrest in the late 80's and early 90's when the two countries went through dramatic social changes (the struggle with which are still visible), and lead to the formation of certain symbols still recognized and in part revered today (Lech Walesa and Solidarity in Poland, and Nelson Mandela and the overthrowing of apartheid in South Africa). Countries like South Africa or Poland come under a global media spotlight every few decades for dramatic, or in some ways exciting moments for observers looking in from the outside, moments which can spark some form of interest in people who, in reality, have little interest in that country at all. The World Cup of 2010 was such a moment, and the coverage from all parts of the world was at an unprecedentedly large scale, yet the impact of this pressure, both on the people and the physical environment of South Africa has not been spoken about, the same as in respect to Poland after 2012 it will not be spoken about.
2000USD -Transportation costs to/from South Africa, as well as travel expenses throughout the country.
750USD Films/Chemicals/Photographic Paper.
250USD Rugged Tripod.
700USD Living expenses for approximately 1 month and half in South Africa.
Total Budget: 3,700 USD
Who I Am
As a student at the photography department at FAMU, the film school in Prague, Czech Republic, I have been in intimate contact with all different forms of the photographic art everyday for the past 3 years; from digital media, to the analog process (35mm through to 18x24cm large format) as well as alternative forms such as serigraphy. Being of Polish as well as American nationality, I am aware of the importance of culture and heritage, and the positive as well as negative ways it shapes a person's identity, as well as the relevance of the idea of place, and with that, home. This project would be a further study relating to my interest in the idea of identity, and how it is shaping and changing in the modern world.