In 2017, I spent a lot of time moving by taxi from Langa to Khayelitsha. En route, I spotted an area that I became curious about. One Friday, I got off and walked over to make friends. After interacting with a few people, I met aunt Joanne Rosaline de Villiers. She informed me about the area and her own story.
Klipfontein Mission Station, which lies between Phillipi and Mandalay, has a few shacks and brick houses and only one bus stop. There is no proper road infrastructure. There is one school and a church. It’s a predominantly coloured area. The residents were moved from the airport grounds when the airport infrastructure was being extended. The City of Cape Town does not provide Klipfontein Mission Station with waste collection services. It does not exist on the map, only Govan Mbeki Road reflects on Google Maps, which is the main road the taxis run on.
According to Joanne, who was born in 1954, her family has lived in the area since 1970. She has never lived anywhere else.
The next time I went to Klipfontein, she invited me into her house, which is her family home. That’s when the image was made, inside her room, which once belonged to her parents. The room includes a cupboard and a mirror desk, which has a Bible on top. She keeps the Bible under her pillow when she sleeps.
When I arrived (which was when I made the image), we just hung out while she was doing her laundry. Generally, I think she loves people but she was wary of my presence in her home. I am lucky, though, because people, oftentimes, easily take a liking to me. The image, though, was not anticipated.
She stood at the window while smoking a cigarette, thinking.
I love storytelling. For me, the image (which was made with a Canon 7D Mark II and a 24mm pancake lens), signifies that great element in my body of work, human interest.
The 24mm pancake lens is the only one I own, currently, so it has to work in all situations I find myself in. In Joanne’s room, the lighting situation influenced the way I positioned myself to make the image. I laid my back against her wardrobe and made the image.