COM-MUTE.
reduce (a judicial sentence, esp. a sentence of death) to one less severe.

Statement.

Commute my second body of work set in South Africa explores multiple themes; fear, xenophobia, fate, issues such as crime, urban decay, the existence of the individual in an 'unpredictable & unsafe' world. The work intends to tussle with both literal and figurative notions of fear through objective and subjective record of place.

That place for the purpose of the narrative of this collection of photographs, is the commuter railway journey from Cape Town's city central station to the quaint coastal enclave of Simon's Town. This is not a random selection of one route over the many routes which the state run Metro Rail runs across peninsular Cape Town. Or to neglect the countless other city commuter rail services globally that cut through diverse social, ethnological & geographical zones and could be treated with equal consideration!

I choose this route because in contemporary South African terms it has been regarded as a heaven and hell experience. Scenic yet dangerous. Violent crime on and off the train has been and continues to plague the route. There are certainly social and political inferences built into it's very essence, but I don't dwell on the complexities of them here. Possibly subliminally though I do gather referrals from another period in South Africa's history. That of the 1980's, apartheid and the 'old' South Africa.

Certainly there continues to be much social comment that, under the authoritarian and draconian ways of the apartheid regime, this very same commute was clean, orderly and safe. Certainly the seed from which this work germinated was a flashback to riding this line during summer of 1985. Recalling the fresh south easterly wind off table bay wafting through the open doors and windows of the train and seeing for the first time the dazzling powder white beaches of Muizenburg. It all seemed so bright, cheerful. Gay. All the while back then, apartheid at it's zenith, 'whites only' signs forbade Africans from boarding the train, and sharing in this delightful escapade to the sea. But I have to emphasize! This collection of photographs is not about the social ramifications of apartheid.

But neither do I put the notions of racial fear or xenophobia aside! And I do challenge myself to walk the underpasses and bridges, wander the corridors and platforms of the Metro Rail as a white person in contemporary South Africa and ask myself, how do I feel? Do I journey with trepidation?

By choosing this trail of cast iron and making it the thread central to my own perceptions of 'existentializm' and corresponding notions of angst, fear of strangers, phobias and how with every twist and turn of the track, notice the gated windows or doors, razor wired fences, & dead pan faces I see the somehow the fate of a nation, the fate of a city, the fate of the individual. My own fate.

Ultimately the title for this body of work, Commute 'to reduce a death sentence to one less severe' is apt, for it directs us to consider that while we fear drudgery, strife, the monotonous life, the often threatening presence of others, we fear death the most. We prefer life, even a finite life to an eternal death.

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