Happy 2016!

I hope you have enjoyed the first few days of the new year! My husband and I spent the South African summer holiday in a small coastal town in the Western Province with family. Today we’re back to work, looking forward to all the adventures that lie ahead this year. We’re moving to the US in just a few months, which means that my South African photography project will soon be coming to a close. The working title has been Pap en Vleis, which is the Afrikaans name for a meal akin to Southern American grits accompanying grilled steak or sausage. “Pap” means “porridge” and “vleis” means “meat.” As much as I’ve enjoyed this working title, while gathering and arranging images at the close of 2015, a more fitting title took over. The project will now be called Learn How to Drive, symbolic of the many challenges and obstacles I’ve faced while figuring out how to navigate my way through an environment quite different from home. I updated the project on my website today with some new images, such as the one above. Go have a look!

Critical Mass Vereeniging

On the last Friday of every month, cyclists of all ages and fitness levels gather at sunset outside River Square, the local mall in Vereeniging, for what’s known as the Three Rivers Critical Mass Ride. They ride a total of about 15km at a leisurely pace, meandering through neighborhoods and pausing for drinks at a bar along the route. #PictureBlackFriday #OptOutside

Podcast Love

Podcasts have been my great friend in the last year, while living abroad in a small South African town. I spend several hours a day in what looks like a pretty typical housewife role, cooking from scratch; cleaning up the kitchen; hanging laundry on the line; and caring for my vegetable garden. I have a giant curiosity and a great hunger for knowledge. One of the elements I miss most about living in the outskirts of Washington D.C. is the constant access to exhibitions, lectures and educational events. While I truly love to read as a way to discover new information, I am typically way too restless to sit myself down and focus for any length of time to actually finish a book. So podcasts are perfect. I can strap my cellphone to my arm, plug in my headphones and get carried off to a recording studio where I imagine myself engaged in conversation with the brilliant artists and researchers offering their experiences and perspectives, all the while, my clothes are hung neatly in the closet and dinner is prepared.

My favorite podcasts all come from NPR: Fresh Air; Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!; Planet Money; This American Life; the first season of Serial; and recently I’ve really enjoyed TED Radio HourOn Point with Tom Ashbrook; and the new Hidden Brain series.

Earlier this year Terry Gross of Fresh Air interviewed Photojournalist Lynsey Addario about her memoir ‘It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War,’ which will be turned into a film directed by Steven Spielberg, staring Jennifer Lawrence. Photographer Sally Mann made an appearance on Fresh Air in May, discussing her memoir ‘Hold Still.’ More recently I really enjoyed hearing the perspective of Mary Karr and her new book ‘The Art of Memoir.’ I’ve been piling up a lot of stories in my head over the years from personal experiences that I have recently felt compelled to begin to record. The idea of memoir is resonating with me at this moment and it is such a gift to hear pieces of wisdom from these accomplished women.

This morning I listened to the discussion between Terry Gross and Sculptor Andy Goldsworthy. I was first introduced to Goldsworthy in a screening of his documentary ‘Rivers and Tides’ in a 3-D Design class at George Mason University. And then again the next semester the film was screened while I was riding a bus, on an 18-hour round-trip excursion between GMU and New York City. Goldsworthy’s thoughtful and painstakingly detailed encounters with nature have been a source of inspiration for my life and artwork.

Whenever I hear a podcast episode that I find particularly relevant and enjoyable, I’ll share it on my Facebook page and Twitter feed. And I’ll gladly welcome your podcast suggestions as well!

Pap en Vleis // Home Security

The most visible difference between American neighborhoods and South African neighborhoods are the walls, gates, fences and barbed wire surrounding the homes. As was shown in yesterday’s post, windows are surrounded by bars. Each home typically also has an alarm system which is set at night time on stay mode and during the day when household members are gone. The alarms get tripped accidentally all the time. So whenever I hear an alarm going off, I generally don’t think twice about it. Most homes in our area also have guard dogs. Like the alarms, the dogs bark at just about anything, at all times of the day and night. It just takes one rowdy canine to stir up the rest of the dogs down the street and there’s suddenly a boisterous symphony of barking, often making it very difficult to get an uninterrupted night of sleep. The false alarms make it very difficult to differentiate between environmental noise and true emergency. I recorded an audio clip while walking down the street this morning:

Introducing :: Pap en Vleis

Pap en Vleis, South Africa, 2013 – present

A work in progress.

I moved to Vereeniging, South Africa in June 2014, and was married a month later. Now I am deeply submerged into a foreign culture and environment, residing in a country where first and third world collide. I am learning what it is to be an American living in South Africa, post-apartheid, married to an Afrikaner. 

Untitled #1, South Africa, 2013

Continue watching the blog and new Facebook page for a selection of images from a larger, ongoing photographic and text-based autobiographical project.

InstaMeet // Emmarentia Dam

I was first introduced to the concept of an InstaMeet a year or so back, thanks to my good friend Nico Vermeulen’s stunning travel blog and Instagram posts. Instagram defines this phenomenon as “gatherings of people coming together to connect, explore, and celebrate their creativity.” It’s a lovely idea, particularly for someone like me who lives in a new country and is curious to see new things and meet new people. The only down side? The meets often occur around 6am at least an hour’s drive away from me… and I am NOT a morning person! But late last week I was telling my husband about this particular InstaMeet happening at one of our favorite parks in Johannesburg and he said, “That sounds like something you’d enjoy,” and then suggested he could go for a bike ride in the city while I check out the meet. So it was settled, we’d toughen up and set the alarm for 4am on a Saturday morning. We drove through to Emmarentia Dam, where I met up with Nico, who introduced me to some of the friends he’d met at previous meets. Everyone was very friendly, walking around the park with camera in hand, asking to pose each other in creative and thoughtful ways. It was a chilly, cloudy morning, but ultimately I can truly say that the experience was well worth the early wakeup and I look forward to future InstaMeets. Here’s a gallery of photographs from Saturday morning:

Thanks so much to @shesaidsa @matthewkanniah and @keenangrams for setting up the event! #VITC #VITC2015 #exploreza @WeExploreZa @inthecityjhb