Cape Town, South Africa, mirrors the problems facing other cities in the developing world. Mass movement from the countryside, driven not by industrialization or economic growth but by desperation, has given rise to informal settlements whose populations have no real connection to the world economy. These settlements, consisting of sprawling squatter camps and garbage hills, are places where urbanization is disconnected from industrialization and economic growth.
In Encounters at the Edge photographer David Lurie attempts to distill his observations of lives lived on the precipice of existence in informal settlements at the edge of Cape Town. He asks that his viewers consider statistics from the United Nations which show that nearly 15 per cent of the world’s population lives in such settlements, meaning that much of the increase in world population will occur in them as well. Through his portraits and landscapes Lurie demonstrates that—left to their own devices-- people will find a way to survive and create community. But he advocates for a much more considered approach to urbanization and for political intervention to avoid its associated ills.
Trained as an economist, David Lurie took up the camera in 1990. Since then he has received numerous awards for his trenchant work including Pictures of the Year International Awards and an Arts Council of Great Britain Grant Award. Lurie is the author of several books including Life in the Liberated Zone (Cornerhouse, UK / William Waterman, SA, 1995; Text by Rian Malan), Cape Town Fringe: Manenberg Avenue is Where it’s Happening ( Double Storey Books, SA, 2004), Images of Table Mountain, (Bell-Roberts, 2006; Text by Ashraf Jamal), Fragments from the Edge ( to be published by Fourth Wall Books, SA, 2012), and The Long Street Show(to be published by Fourth Wall Books, SA).