Langa Longer Shopping Mall
For Con/struct, photographer Justin Plunkett blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, creating towering South African cityscapes from photographs layered with three-dimensional animations. In these immense metropolises, the imagined allure of economic success meets the cruel realities of urban disrepair, with each frame seamlessly merging shots of Cape Town’s impoverished neighborhoods with unlikely icons of great wealth and prosperity, including features associated with opulent Cape Dutch architecture.
In these towering structures, we find ominous yet enticing manifestations of a global commercial fantasy that casts vast shadows over the streets like ever-present reminders of a mysterious and unfulfilled promise of success. In the wake of the crimes of Apartheid, Plunkett explains that “empowerment” refers most often to the economic and political advancement of oppressed groups, sometimes to the exclusion of more subtle yet essential achievements of personal will and determination. Con/struct is his bold exploration into the areas from which we derive our sense of self-worth and success.
Many of Plunkett’s original images were gathered from struggling neighborhoods lined with tin shacks, yet here they are imbued with the glamour of commercial expansion and glossy advertisements. With these hulking towers, he presents a vision of power that is absolute but ultimately fictional, imposing yet illusory.
Glory to Gold
Diepsloot Dignity Tower
Sunny Meadow Fun Park
Bridge Below Starry Skies
All images © Justin Plunkett