Fashion brings Langa into focus


Look beyond the corrugated zinc walls. South African townships are pulsating with style. People wrapped in vibrant patterned textiles punctuate images of dilapidated buildings and taxi ranks. Their ornate garments enhance their surroundings. Luxolo Witvoet’s photos are a response to the singular narratives that focus on poverty and crime. The figures in his photos stand tall like exclamation points. They aren’t the end of a sentence. Instead, they mark the beginning of a conversation about representation.

Witvoet is a photographer, film editor, and director. Growing up in Langa, a Western Cape township, he experienced how areas like this were used to limit people of colour. As an artist, he sought ways to uplift rather than restrict people. “It’s important to me that my work is empowering,” Witvoet says. Inspired by fashion, he began weaving individual stories into his photo series, A Langa Canvas.

“It’s images that are there to alter the perception of how society views people from the township,” Witvoet says. His photographs reframe, reimagine, and honour townships by brightly personifying them. With integrity, Witvoet constructs a multiplicity of dazzling stories to showcase these places and its people.