Merkie Photoprint is part of the project ‘DIE LEWE IS NIE REG VIR MY NIE’ by Farren van Wyk. only 4 photoprints are available of this image
The print is available in A6 format and will be shipped without a frame.
Click here to see the other photographs by Farren van Wyk besides this Merkie photoprint.
Farren van Wyk (1993) is a South African and Dutch photographer, educator and mentor. She graduated from the University of Arts (HKU) in 2016 where she received her BA degree in Photography after an extensive visual research project with (ex-)gangsters in South African colored communities in her hometown Port Elizabeth. Trying to centralise colored people with dignity and make it a normality. They are beautiful and they matter.
She has been living in The Netherlands for over twenty years and her dual nationality is the crux of her work. The centuries of white western domination that implemented the slave trade, colonisation and apartheid is deeply ingrained in landscape that she was born in.
This historical and somewhat troubling relationship between these two countries that she calls home sparks a lot of questions that she tries to answer within her photography projects. Most of the questions stay unanswered, but that is also the beauty of the journey.
About the project
When South Africa became a democratic country in 1994 the reality of most South Africans did not change. During Apartheid, colored people (a term referring to people of mixed race during that period) were sent to remote and impoverished neighbourhoods due to racial segregation. Schauderville in Port Elizabeth was one of those places. Criminal activities increased in Schauderville during the apartheid era and as a result groups of men took on the role of police officers to keep their streets safe. These groups have evolved into different gangs that still roam Schauderville.
I was born in Salsoneville, just a few kilometres from Schauderville, but have been living in the Netherlands since I was six years old. For me, going to back home and doing research about gang culture was a part of the overall research into coloured communities in South African. A group which I belong to. The term came to life during the apartheid regime where segregation due to skin color was enforced. This mentality and symbolic definition of skin color and its relationship to social hierarchy still exists and is being kept alive.
My visit in 2016 was about learning how the men formed their identity while being part of a gang and discovering that there were men who peacefully stepped out of the group as well. I spent four months getting to know a small group of men who shared their life’s story with me.
What influenced them to become a gang member? What was the reason to renounce and leave the gang? Is there a safe place to wipe the slate clean and start over again? I went back in 2019 and 2020 to visit and portray those same men again. I wanted to know how they were doing while still living in Schauderville and seeing the gang related crimes increasing around them. How is it to have friends and family on the inside and being able to freely live another life?
The world has been divided between the Western world and the ‘non’ western world, which excludes rather than includes. This is engraved in all aspects of life. The western perspective has dominated the cultural debate for centuries and excludes other perspectives. Most of the time there is little recognition for ‘the other’ that is represented. South Africa is not the only country that suffers from a wrongful representation by this western perspective. My body of work shines a light on the positive and more humane side of a district where gang wars are part of the daily life.
About the webshop
WayWard Customs is a sneaker service company that specializes in customization and restoration of sneakers. We are a company with roots in Amsterdam, founded in 2014. We stand for unique designs and encourage our customers to express themselves and to do that in small rebellious or wayward ways.