Maverick Life

Maverick Life

Johannesburg in photos: On the block of gentrification

Johannesburg in photos: On the block of gentrification

Pockets of Johannesburg’s CBD are being redeveloped bringing together tsotsis and taverns with hipsters and professionals. In photos, GREG NICOLSON explores the dynamic Maboneng area and its surrounding blocks, crossing streets from one world to another. While the area is gentrified, creating blocks of trendy apartment buildings, restaurants and stores, it’s only a pocket on the dilapidated edge between the CBD and Jeppe which both interacts with and separates itself from its surrounds.

Photo: On Sundays the area hosts a market at Arts on Main, offering gourmet food and drinks as well as chic clothing.

Photo: The market is popular with both Maboneng locals and visitors from other areas of Johannesburg.

Photo: A man takes a picture on his iPhone of boys and their BB guns. Security is high in the area and people feel comfortable flashing their phones and cameras despite the area being in town, often considered dangerous.

Photo: Two blocks away, it’s a different story. This bottle store has been robbed multiple times and its owner says he hopes Jonathan Lieberman, the developer responsible for Maboneng, will buy the building opposite which has been hijacked and is known for housing criminals.

Photo: Next to the bottle store is a hotel with slot machines and strippers on most nights, but not Sundays due to restrictive laws, says the owner.

Photo: The area attracts artists and their exhibitions. Some of the work interacts with the city, like the “I was shot in Joburg” exhibition.

Photo: Only a few buildings away from Arts on Main is the Radiator Centre. Tenants were evicted from this building in December without even the opportunity to collect their belongings. Until they received alternative accommodation, they moved onto the street, outside the trendy Arts on Main.

Photo: The security guard at the Radiator Centre said the building was bought by two brothers who hope to develop it.

Photo: A block from the Maboneng precinct, a man drinks and washes using water from the gutter.

Photo: Two blocks up Fox Street, squatters live without any services in an abandoned building.

Photo: Residents on the property use this courtyard to access the one tap for about 40 people, cook and go to the bathroom.

Photo: Squalor and order appear to coexist in the building where, despite abysmal living conditions, residents try to carve out what life they can and live in tight quarters together. “I don’t want to die here without my family knowing where I am or what happened to me,” said one resident.

Photo: A boy with an infection on his chin who lives at the squatter building enjoys the attention of the camera.

Photo: Jumping between the two spaces – the developed and the undeveloped, or the moneyed and the broke – offers an uneasy sense of the area. Here, people enjoy the Living Room rooftop bar.

Photo: A slackline walker steadies himself as he moves between two buildings, with the city skyline in the background.

Photo: As the area is gentrified, it brings drastically different versions of “normal” coexisting within blocks of each other. DM

Main photo: In the POPArt theatre dancers who have auditioned to join the popular V.I.N.T.A.G.E crew listen anxiously to find out whether they have been successful.

All photos by Greg Nicolson/Daily Maverick


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