Author Jackie Higgins reveals the key trends and brightest talents driving street photography forward around the world.

Jackie Higgins is the author of The World Atlas of Street Photography. In this three part series, Jackie reveals the key trends and brightest talents driving street photography forward around the world. First up, Africa.

Within the confines of the city, residents are compelled to live in relatively close proximity and therefore, issues of inequality can become strikingly apparent. The desire to document injustices – whether between races, sexes or social strata – is perhaps particularly noticeable on the African continent.

Yto Barrada and A Life Full of Holes: The Strait Project

Le Détroit, Avenue d’Espagne, Tangier, Morocco, 2000 by Yto Barrada, from ‘A Life Full of Holes: The Strait Project’, 1999–2003. Courtesy of the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut/Hamburg.

‘Le Détroit, Avenue d’Espagne’, Tangier, Morocco, 2000 by Yto Barrada, from A Life Full of Holes: The Strait Project, 1999–2003. Courtesy of the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut/Hamburg.

The Moroccan artist considers the impact of the Shengen Area on her hometown of Tangier. Created in 1995, it restricts African access to Europe and has turned the Strait of Gibraltar into a Berlin Wall. Thousands of people each year try to cross it, some die trying, and Tangier has become the gateway, or in Barrada’s words, “the jumping off point of a thousand hopes.” In this series, she moves beyond traditional documentary by presenting snapshots of quotidian street scenes that resonate with symbolic significance. So in ‘Le Détroit, Avenue d’Espagne’, the empty expanse of tarmac facing the model ship hints at the expanse of sea that separates Morocco from Europe: the Strait.

Graeme Williams and A City Refracted

From ‘A City Refracted’ by Graeme Williams, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2012–14

From A City Refracted by Graeme Williams, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2012–14

Williams explores how the once wealthy, white-only inner city of Johannesburg has changed after the end of Apartheid. The whites fled and now it is full of immigrants from all over Africa. “Certain districts and apartment blocks are now dominated by Nigerians, Ghanaians, Somalis, and immigrants from all over Africa,” he says. A City Refracted is a stark reminder of how not simply Johannesburg, but the whole country has failed to socially integrate; Williams concludes, “It refutes the dream of the Rainbow Nation.”

The Essop Twins

Essop Twins - Azaan, Cape Town, South Africa, 2008

Essop Twins - ’Azaan’, Cape Town, South Africa, 2008

Hasan and Husain Essop were born and bred in Cape Town and raised as devout Muslims. Their work explores issues of identity, and specifically what it means to be an Islamic youth living in a secular society in Cape Town. They stage themselves for the camera, taking multiple exposures, which they then superimpose in complex digital compositions. They explain, “This is how we see the clash between east and west, which exists simultaneously in our bodies. It’s our struggle.”

Jackie Higgins is the author of The World Atlas of Street Photography, published by Thames & Hudson.

Check out Part 2: Europe – Voyeurism And Surveillance.