With the Jo’burg series, photographer Guy Tillim offers a deep insight into the private lives of the residents of Johannesburg’s decaying inner city.
After the end of the apartheid in the early 1990s, large numbers of white population left the central city area. The logical consequence was an onslaught of black tenants and micro-entrepreneurs in search of better living conditions. However, corrupt property managers also took advantage of this opportunity: instead of maintaining houses and taking care of their tenants, they often disappeared without leaving a trace. The ensuing decay of residential areas is also derived from the lack of a functioning administrative state structure. The promises made by the government concerning extensive remedial measures were not kept – at least, not until the date on which the photographs were taken. Broken windows define the inner city’s appearance, just as much as empty elevator shafts turned into landfills. Tenants and landlords quarrel over unpaid rents and poor building conditions. The life of the residents is crushed between irresolute city officials and hesitant investors who will decide whether the centre of Johannesburg will flourish or not.