In South Africa, divisions based on race, class, and gender have been common throughout its history. Although apartheid officially lasted between 1948 and 1976, social divisions continue to exist today and dictate how people behave towards one another. It also leads to some individuals being seen as “the other” by those who are from different ethnic or socioeconomic groups. Many South African artists have explored these social issues through paintings, sculptures, collages, and photographs. A new photographic series called I Have A Name highlights the everyday lives, struggles, and journeys of everyday South African people through realistic photos.
In a similar manner as photographer Brandon Stanton, known for his book Humans of New York, the photographer of I Have A Name is interested in telling the stories of real people. She also seeks to help them to improve their circumstances by connecting them with people who can assist them. The photographer doesn’t reveal her name on her website. She merely goes by the title, “The Admin.” The only details about herself that she shares is that she is “a wife, a mother, a photographer.” An experience with a 92-year-old homeless person outside of her apartment complex led The Admin to develop a photography series in June 2016. After talking with Aprocarne, she started to think about how, in South Africa, people are often ignored or judged because of preconceived notions based on race, gender and class. She decided to use her website as a platform for sharing people’s personal stories and helping them on a more personal level.
The stories of the people in the series vary, but all showcase the different hardships that people in South Africa face. The series includes a woman with a limp who moved to South Africa to be closer to her daughter, a widowed mom with four children, a student studying journalism, a gardener and pastor, a man who sells handmade furniture and fencing, a single mom working as a painter and home decorator, an actor, performing artist, and rapper, a bread maker raising four children as a single mom, and a man with cerebral palsy running a homeless and jobless support center with his father. The photographer offers glimpses into the lives of these individuals, who are similar in many ways to other citizens living in different neighborhoods in South Africa. The stories are told through a combination of posts and updates incorporating texts and photos. Through the website, the administrator also shares details about how others can best help these individuals and their families financially.
The I Have A Name series has helped to create a greater awareness not just in South Africa, but worldwide, of the issues facing the country and its people. It also gives a face to the people of South Africa. By getting to know these individuals better, people are more willing to help them and others in similar situations. The website offers phone numbers, email addresses and websites for the individuals spotlighted in the series so that others can help or work with them. Already the website has developed a following, and it continues to feature new subjects each month.