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2 AUGUST 2016


The viral images that everyone is talking about


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A photo project showing the stark difference between how rich and poor South Africans live has gone viral, captured the attention of the international community; and will now be exhibited for the first time at Gordon Institute of Business Science in Johannesburg.


"Unequal Scenes" started as a Facebook post by Cape Town-based photographer Johnny Miller, who had used a drone to capture the Cape township of Masiphumelele from above. Separated by a stretch of wetlands and an electric fence from the scenic neighbouring suburb of Lake Michelle, Masiphumulele is densely populated and worlds removed from the lifestyle of its nearest neighbours.


When the post was shared over a thousand times, even though Miller only had 1 200 followers, he knew that he was onto something. In the months since, he has travelled around South Africa with his Inspire 1 drone and captured images that tell a story of inequality that is still entrenched in SA society 22 years after the end of apartheid. The project has garnered interest from influential media outlets globally, from India to Poland and China, from the BBC and CNN to Huffington Post and The Guardian.


Says Miller, "Drone photography is interesting because it affords people a new perspective on places they thought they knew. Humans have this amazing ability to think we know a situation, having seen it so many times from the same perspective. It becomes routine, almost a pattern. When you fly, you totally change that." His aim with the project, he says, is to provoke a dialogue that can begin to address the issues of inequality and disenfranchisement in a constructive and peaceful way.


Viewed together, the images of suburb after privileged suburb separated by a thin barrier from crowded townships, make for a impactful collection that invites engagement, says GIBS Art on Campus curator John Malherbe. From Hout Bay and adjoining Imizamo Yethu in the Cape to Sandton and Alexandra in northern Joburg, the images are immensely moving and convey a powerful message that illustrates principles of modern society though urban development, not only in terms of challenges but also of hope. "Taking these portraits of communities from a cellphone screen onto a large, physical canvas magnifies their impact immeasurably," explains Malherbe. "GIBS and Business and Arts South Africa are very proud to bring this work to a broad audience in a new format." As an institution that develops business leaders and entrepreneurial spirit, GIBS provides a challenging, provocative environment, into which "Unequal Scenes", with its wordless exploration of social issues, steps effortlessly.


Miller will continue to develop "Unequal Scenes" as a project to document urban realities. Limited numbers of each image exhibited will be for sale to help make the project sustainable.


The Unequal Scenes exhibition opens on 10 August at 18h30 at GIBS, Melville Road, Illovo, and will be open to the public daily from 8am to 8pm until 10 September 2016. For more info, check the GIBS Art on Campus Facebook page.  END


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