“My work in South Africa came about by chance. While exploring amateur boxing in the United States and abroad, I was led to visit the Luyviso Club, housed in an old converted community house in Khayelitsha, a township 40 kilometers from Cape Town.
Since 2004, I have visited the traditionally black townships of Langa, Khayelitsha, Philippi, and Gugulethu more than a dozen times. I photographed overcrowded classrooms, the emergency room of a public hospital, young thriving churches, the streets of rough neighborhoods, and the homes of those who live there. My photographs were a testament to the perseverance of these South Africans who, despite endemic violence, deep economic distress and ever-present racism, have maintained their dignity, hope and courage. There, away from the cities where tourists and businessmen flock, in these townships teeming with life, I found in the people I photographed beauty, strength, and humanity in all its contradictions: a preacher’s sermon before a captivated congregation, a couple’s embrace in love at dusk, Sindi’s pride in her traditional Xhosa dress, the pain of mourning at the funeral of a young Sotho man, the shocking marks of violence on a woman’s battered face and body, the poetry and grace of a young girl dancing on a balmy Sunday afternoon.
From my first project (on Basque life and culture in southwestern France) to this one, I have worked in the tradition of humanist photographers, such as Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans, striving to make images that evoke empathy and change the social gaze.”
– Anne Rearick