Ian van Coller
September 3, 2009 - September 29, 2009
In 2007 Ian van Coller returned to his birthplace in South Africa to photograph 41 female domestic workers employed in Johannesburg. His goal was to create a portrait series that would provide a space for domestic workers to assert their own identities juxtaposed within settings where they normally had to conform to their employers often unspoken (and customary) expectations with respect to dress and manner. For this project, the subjects were asked to wear their preferred clothing and accessories so that they might express some aspects of their aesthetics and identity.
Van Coller writes: “In this immediate post-Apartheid era, there remain few employment opportunities for many black South African women aside from domestic work. And with a fifty-percent unemployment rate, domestic service fills a critical need for women seeking to support their families. My intent is to capture some of the complexities that all South Africans face in creating and asserting post-Apartheid identities in the face of dramatic economic and cultural realities.”