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← David Goldblatt: A Monument to Apartheid in Fietas | Art21 "Extended Play"

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Showing Revision 2 created 03/06/2019 by Jonathan Munar.

  1. [DAVID GOLDBLATT] We're headed west--
  2. at the moment we're heading south--
  3. but we're going to the west of the city
    to a suburb called Fietas.
  4. [Fietas was a diverse community
    with a large Indian population.]
  5. [During apartheid its residents
    were forcibly relocated.]
  6. It's official name is Pageview,
  7. but it came to be known
    by its residents as Fietas.
  8. No one knows now for sure
    where the name came from
  9. and if it has any meaning--
    what it means--
  10. but that was the fond name
    for the area.
  11. When I started photographing here in '76,
  12. the community was still largely intact.
  13. That's the Twenty-Third Street mosque.
  14. The houses here consist of
    some of the original Indian houses
  15. and then those that were built by the
    Department of Community Development.
  16. We were wonderful in our ability
    to invent the meaning of words.
  17. The Department of Community Development
    came here and destroyed their community.
  18. For example, these here were built by the
    Department of Community Development.
  19. And as you see, they are now little fortresses,
  20. as are so many of our houses in Johannesburg.
  21. A working class White community,
    next door to this,
  22. agitated for their removal.
  23. Whites didn't want people of color
    living next door to them.
  24. It was as crude as that.
  25. What happened here is typical of what
    happened in almost every town in South Africa.
  26. --[SALMA PATEL] You went from behind,
    and you could buy meat.
  27. [LAUGHS]
  28. --I had an amazing childhood,
    you know that!
  29. I remember David coming on a bicycle--
  30. coming and cycling.
  31. And I used to wonder,
    "Why does he do this?"
  32. I was going to school then.
  33. I saw this man photographing
    all these ruins.
  34. In my little world in those days,
    this was home,
  35. and I didn't really understand the full
    implications of forced removals.
  36. Because of the apartheid regime's
    racist ideologies,
  37. this area was destroyed.
  38. Fietas Museum is a very good way
    to understand land dispossession,
  39. destruction of family units,
    and a community.
  40. These are Paul Weinberg's photographs.
  41. Paul and I have a long history.
  42. He's walked this whole journey with me,
    like with David.
  43. I've known them for so many years.
  44. These two photographers were very generous
  45. in just donating the pictures
    to the Fietas Museum.
  46. Had it not been for their photographs,
  47. we wouldn't have a pictorial record
    of my forebearers
  48. and my community.
  49. This shows Fourteenth Street in its heyday.
  50. As you can see, it had the elements
    that are essential for good cities.
  51. And that is:
    density, diversity, and complexity.
  52. It was a community of blended cultures.
  53. There's an Indian concept called,
    "upar makaan neeche dukaan,"
  54. meaning living quarters upstairs
    and trading premises downstairs.
  55. It's a very smart way of using space.
  56. The people that were
    forcibly removed from this area--
  57. especially in this particular street--
    were traders.
  58. [GOLDBLATT] White people, Black people--
  59. all kinds of people--
    would come from all over the area
  60. to shop here,
    on Fourteenth Street.
  61. The streets were very narrow.
  62. I found that the best way of coming here
    to photograph was to ride a bicycle.
  63. I came in on a bicycle with a
    couple of panniers on it
  64. so that I could carry
    a four-by-five view camera,
  65. or a Hasselblad,
  66. some film, and a lightweight tripod.
  67. I would come in here and photograph
    people, shops--
  68. whatever I wanted.
  69. I got to know Ozzie Docrat,
  70. one of the Indian men who had a shop here.
  71. He had a shop just down the road here
    which was called the "Subway Grocers."
  72. If there was a big cricket match--
    internationally--
  73. he would put the score outside
    on the sidewalk,
  74. so that people coming by could see
    what the score was.
  75. He knew the tram drivers who came past.
  76. It was not impossible for a
    tram driver to stop his tram
  77. and go in there and say,
    "Ozzie, you got the score wrong, man!"
  78. "So-and-so is out now."
  79. It was a very popular place
    and he was a very popular man.
  80. His home was here.
  81. Right here.
  82. This was the core of the house.
  83. It was reinforced concrete, because it
    needed to support the water tank.
  84. When the front-end loaders came in here
    to destroy everything in 1977,
  85. they couldn't push this over.
  86. It's reinforced concrete.
  87. So it remains here now as a
    crazy monument to apartheid.
  88. He had to move to Lenasia,
  89. which is the Indian suburb
    that was set up outside the city
  90. to absorb these people
    who were displaced.
  91. The government built the
    so-called "Oriental Plaza"--
  92. a shopping mall which
    they said would then
  93. substitute for the shops that
    they were destroying here.
  94. One day, it is was a Sunday Morning,
  95. I came riding here on my bicycle,
  96. and there was Ozzie Docrat.
  97. We greeted each other,
    and I said to him,
  98. "You know Mr. Docrat,"
  99. "I cannot tell you how ashamed I am
    of what is being done here,"
  100. "to you in my name, as a White voter."
  101. Then I said to him,
    "You know, I've got a problem,"
  102. "because they're knocking down the buildings
    and I can't remember what was there."
  103. And he said, "Mr. Goldblatt,"
  104. "I feel as though I've been to the dentist,"
  105. "and I've had teeth extracted."
  106. "And I run my tongue over the spaces,"
  107. "and I try to remember the shape
    of what was there."
  108. It was an extraordinary statement.