Samuel (Standing), Vaalkoppies (Beaufort West Rubbish Dump)
At the halfway point along South Africa’s Highway N1, running from Cape Town to Johannesburg, sits the small town of Beaufort West. The 1,200-mile highway joins the northern provinces of the country to the south cuts through. Beaufort West becomes the main strip of the township, whereby the thousands of commuters passing through are thus forced to witness the town’s squalid social and economic condition. “Samuel (Standing), Vaalkoppies (Beaufort West Rubbish Dump)” is a reflection of economic reality of Beaufort West, where Subotzky spends a significant amount of time with the lesser fortunate black residents to understand the conflicted reality of existence in this pass-through town. The photograph quickly sweeps the viewer into the lives of the marginalized; the trash pickers at the local dump while simultaneously referencing the white citizens at a livestock show, the households that set up makeshift taverns, prostitution of the truck drivers, and the prison, housed centrally in the township. What seems to be an endless landscape of rubbish, leading into the sky, Subotzky’s central figure wearing a Mexican wrestling mask, is a confronting challenge for recognition and change of the aftermath of the South African apartheid and economic disaster.