Downtown. Chinatown. Commissioner street. Albertina Sisulu street. Ferrairsdorp.
Many of the buildings in the “original” Chinatown stand abandoned.
Empty shells with no ocean to echo.
None except the crashing waves of history? Perhaps. The feet of the deaf loathe sea sand.
The empty, quarantined buildings refuse entry to everyone. Everyone except the hunched over municipal employee: clanging set of keys and orders whispered from high, high up the bureaucratic food chain of rent and surveillance.
Visually, and physically entire spaces are bordered off, along with the people who live there. Their voices, stories, past and future dreams, suffer a symbolic excommunication that spills into reality.
This fable of sides and borders, of separate places will play a large part in my exploration of how the Chinese community in Joburg prepare themselves, and their recently deceased, for another place, while remaining tethered to this very real, visceral place.