"Although informal settlements are not acceptable, there is something particularly worthy of preservation," writes the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to a place to live, Leilani Farha, in the preface to Pieter de Vo's photo book Homelands. These are not Israeli settlements in Gaza, but the countless interim housing estates that are scattered throughout most of the world's major cities.
South African photographer Pieter de Vos has documented daily life in Woodlane Village, an informal settlement on the outskirts of Pretoria, South Africa, to understand "how people experience home and belonging in a community that is in the realm of inclusion and exclusion". It is a series of aesthetically stunning images with a sense of detail come out.
Belonging and strangeness
The main character in the narrative that unfolds in Homelands, is Donald Banda, who spent two decades under apartheid in prison and has since settled in Woodlane Village. Donald Banda and Pieter de Vos have their home country of South Africa in common, but otherwise not much else, besides a close friendship, emerged through the months they spent together during the latter's photo project.
Pieter de Vos himself – who is a white African – migrated to Canada with his family because his parents could not endure the 1980s brutalization of society. They could choose to take away, unlike people like Donald Banda. For the photographer, the photo project in Woodlane Village also became a way to understand his own migration history, his own frayed feelings of belonging. . .
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