Mpho Mokgadi

I moved to Johannesburg to study photography at the Market Photo Workshop to develop my skills, when I arrived it was an overwhelming environment form me. I could hardly relate with the city in relations to Pretoria, I was filled with confusion, alienation and loneliness.Based on the experiences and encounters that I am facing in this 'new city' (Johannesburg), the project for a body of work/series that I have been forming speaks towards and unpacks the period I have been living alone in two cities.

I am seeking to explore how detachment and alienation affects engagement or lack of engagement, with ones physical surroundings.Though as a photographer I have been fascinated as to how does this non-relation with a new space allows for creation or being able to interact with space in the hopes of producing an image. Each image/shot, starts to question how the feeling of detachment reveals an expression of emptiness within the outside world.

My experience of Large Cities, through observation has led me to seeing a landscape of overloaded with competing commercialisation of a space and disconnected information in relation to the people making use of the city as a place (lacking connection). In my photographs I try to find human emotional aspects in spaces that appear empty, through artificial light, form, composition and circumstances.

Some of the key texts that have started to look into, include:

Yi - Fu Tuan:Space and Place: The perspective of Experience (1998)
Michal de Certeau:The practice of Everyday life (Walking in the City) (1984)

I started walking alone at night through the city, I didn't mind the cold, the darkness and the wind that followed me everywhere. What the night time walks provided, was a sense of freedom and an escape, from depression, feeling lonely, missing home from the space of my flat, and the overwhelming presence of the buzz the space has during the day. I then realised how free and quite Johannesburg can become at night time. Johannesburg by day includes large groups of people, commercial activities, traffic and commuting. At the end of every day when night falls, the cityprovides scenes of a landscape depicting the calm after the storm (the city after day). Johannesburg comes to rest as there are less distortions, less commotion of people and economic activities are dormant.

I am driven by what I do not know and what I feel familiar with, finding what is common among us.