“My work in South Africa was by chance. While exploring amateur boxing in the U.S. and abroad, I was led to visit the Luyviso Club, housed in an old neighbourhood house converted into a gym, in Khayelitsha, a township 40 kilometers from Cape Town.
Since 2004, I have visited more than ten times the traditionally black townships of Langa, Khayelitsha, Philippi, and Gugulethu. I have photographed overcrowded classrooms, the emergency room of a public hospital, thriving young churches, the streets of difficult 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 hardship and ever-present racism, have retained their dignity, hope and courage. There, away from the cities where tourists and businessmen flock, in these townships teeming with life, I found beauty, strength, and humanity in all its contradictions in the people I photographed: the sermon of a preacher in front of a captivated congregation, the embrace of a loving couple at nightfall, the pride of Sindi in her traditional Xhosa dress, the pain of dueil at the funeral of a young Sotho boy, the shocking traces of violence on the bruised face and body of a woman, the poetry and grace of a young girl dancing on a sweet 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 create empathy and change the social gaze.”