The revelry of drunken nights and the subsequent slow, hungover, days on the beach are framed by a word: umlungu. This isiXhosa word is thought to translate to the white foam of the waves or the scum of the sea, for their likeness to the sails of the colonial ships. In contemporary South Africa it refers to a white person. Depending on the context, umlungu may be considered a racial slur or a term of endearment.
These photographs were made in the small towns scattered along the Eastern Cape coastline of South Africa. Many of these spaces are summer holiday destinations and are quiet during the year. The beach is an important space for many South Africans. This is the site of various rituals, celebrations and of course, leisure. It has it’s own complicated history given the arrival of colonisation by ship and then segregation during apartheid.
I became interested in the structure of these places: the details as well as the manner in which people interact (or don’t). The work is as an attempt to grapple with the notions of access and privilege, while investigating a troubled past and present.