Samuel (standing). Vaalkoppies (Beaufort West Rubbish Dump), South Africa. 2006. “This photograph was taken at Beaufort West’s municipal dump, Vaalkoppies, which in Afrikaans means ‘grey hills’.
And this is Samuel, who’s wearing a Spider-Man mask he found in the rubbish. I was at the dump on a day when rubbish is collected in town, and a truck would arrive every fifteen minutes. There’s a group of about thirty people who live at the dump, and on collection days others come from town, too. I spent some time sitting in one of the shacks talking to people. Someone would always be watching for the next truck, and whenever they heard one coming, they’d call out something and everyone would run to be on the spot as it dropped off its load. One time, I was confused because the lookout heard a truck, and called out, but no-one moved. I asked why no-one was running after it. I was told it was ‘die bene lorry’, the bones lorry. This was the truck with the rubbish from the townships. There would be nothing but bones in it, so it was not worth bothering with. Imagine that. Imagine living in a world where even rubbish is an expression of class divisions, and where fellow humans pick through our trash to keep hunger at bay. We all do live in that world, we just don’t see it, like Samuel does every day.” – Mikhael Subotzky
© Mikhael Subotzky | Magnum Photos
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