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Araminta de Clermont November 3, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in South Africa.

Initiated Xhosa men. Cape Town 2010

Araminta de Clermont (b. 1971, England) is a documentary portrait photographer based in London. Having trained as an architect, her work is partly informed by the relationship between the built environment and its inhabitants. Her time as a photographer at the Sunday Times, South Africa, (working under picture editor Greg Marinovich of the Bang Bang club), exploring a country attempting to recover has also been a powerful influence on her work. Her photographs have appeared in The Guardian, The Times Magazine, and Spectrum, among others, and is in collections including The South African National Gallery. In 2010 she was one of the winners of Spier Contemporary, as well as recently having a portrait accepted by The Taylor Wessing Photo Prize at The National Portrait Gallery.

About the Photograph:

“This photograph is part of a series of recently initiated young Xhosa men living in the townships surrounding Cape Town. With their families being displaced from rural, historically beleaguered areas like The Eastern Cape, these young men, living in the marginalized sprawls of urban shack-lands, are holding tightly onto their own culture’s traditions. For the majority of these young men, the initiation process is a watershed, an  opportunity to start new way of being. For up to six months after his time in the bush, a newly initiated man will wear clothing which denotes his new status, showing that he has left childhood behind, has gone through the circumcision process (with all the accompanying challenges) and has entered a new phase of life, maturity, and responsibility. This outward demonstration of an inner change is a hugely significant part of the process, and a great source of pride. Such outfits also serve to remind the wearer to behave befittingly and respectfully in this period of transition. Still, I was very much left with questions about the validity of a new start and new hope, when seen in the context of surroundings which have not changed as the man has?”