Near zero, 2018
In 2018 Cape Town, South Africa, was the first major city in known world history that faced the possibility of running out of water. All factors indicated that the sprawling metropolis’ taps might run dry in the near future. Should this have happened, millions of residents would have had to queue daily for rationed water at militarized collection points. This has become known as Day Zero.
The city primarily relies on rainfall for its water, in the form of six catchment dams in the Western Cape. Theewaterskloof, with a massive storage capacity of 480 million cubic meters, is the largest of these dams by a considerable margin; it is solely responsible for nearly half of Cape Town’s municipal water supply. Its current level stands at an unprecedented 10.6% – the lowest measurement of all the dams in the city’s dwindling storage system.
As the crisis intensified, and dam levels continued to fall, I set out to photograph the haunting remnant of Cape Town’s primary reservoir. Treading lightly on the back of a broken giant, I never aimed to showcase the abundant horrors of drought and ecological devastation that has come to define Theewaterskloof in mainstream and social media at the time. From the start, my lens was drawn to the sanctity, rather than the scarcity, of the bared blood that still ran through its veins: water.
Water is a divine substance. Without it, life in all its sacred forms would not exist.
Amidst the fear, confusion and political posturing surrounding the city’s water issue, I could not help but realise that this sense of its divinity has been lost.
By using long exposure photography, I tried to restore an element of ethereal beauty to this highly publicised and diminished body of water, without shying away from the harsh reality of its physical context. The contrasting result, I feel, is a much needed reminder of water’s transcendent nature.
My hope is that the aesthetic element at the heart of this series will result in a heightened spiritual awareness. May it serve as some form of inspiration to not simply look up at the heavens, but deep within ourselves. Only from a heightened, unified understanding of the beauty and fragility of all Being can we hope to find meaningful, sustainable solutions to the intertwined challenges facing humanity and the planet as a whole.