When we met her—Lerato—she looked fabulous. Blue dress, dark sunglasses, and a furious crown of hair. She took us dancing. She showed us the Johannesburg she knows. “If you want to understand Johannesburg,” that‘s what our friend the philosopher Sarah Nuttall had told us a day before, “you have to go out. You have to let yourself be swept away.” So that‘s what we did. We got into a cab, drove through the dark deserted town, ignored all warnings, and found ourselves in a party more glamorous than either of us had ever been to, Bobby and me. Glamorous not in that Karl Lagerfeld-stupid sense, but young and beautiful and sexy and energetic. The music by DJ Fix was stellar. The setting was epic because of its glory in decay, a surge of enthusiasm that kept us partying till the early morning. The next day Lerato showed us her work. And this was when we finally fell for her. Because it’s not only strong and full of a longing that has to do with how things and people look, as well as with the understanding that the need to resist, the will to survive, the commitment to be a better person, is all a daily undertaking. No, the world she showed us, with these pictures, took us away from the present and then took that present and made it much stronger than almost anything we had seen ot done in Johannesburg. Cold, wonderful Johannesburg. City of fear and angels. We then asked her to contribute to Book 8 of the 80*81 series, the Superburg Book – and these pictures again show what an eye she has for the layers of the present, the pose of the political, the reference of the historical, the knowledge that something is ahead, we are just not sure what it is.
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