Arresting Dystopian South African Cityscapes Merge Fantasy with Reality


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


Gugulethu Gables


Diepsloot Dignity Tower


Sunny Meadow Fun Park


Bridge Below Starry Skies

All images © Justin Plunkett

via Hi-Fructose


The 2nd Annual Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Awards is an international photography competition for up-and-coming image makers who are ready to kickstart their careers. Five talented photographers will be provided with the resources they need to get their career off to a strong start. Photographers of all disciplines are welcome to submit up to 5 images in any genre. We can’t wait to see your best work! Enter here.

  • gvanderleun

    You see, there’s no limit to what Africans can do once they buckle down!

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