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I'm not a Cheese Boy

Since the end of Apartheid in South Africa in 1994, around three million black South Africans have risen into the country's middle class. Until recently, the middle class was almost exclusively white but demographics have rapidly altered this proportion - along with many other things in South African society.

"For us black South Africans, there is no such thing as middle or upper class but we are definitely different from the people we grew up with" says one young middle class black South African. Helped by systematic "Black Economic Empowerment" state policies, this new social group which grew up in the townships and has now moved to more affluent neighbourhoods, finding its place in society is no easy feat. In Johannesburg, urban geography is vital for creating new markers: districts and communities are still only starting to be mixed and living here, shopping there and going out to have fun somewhere else gives meaning, it categorises and identifies.

From the townships of their childhood which they often return to on the weekends (or try to forget at all costs) toward the large, new suburban estates which are still relatively accessible with easy credit; and onward to the wealthy white districts which some lucky ones can access, life is changing across South Africa. Yet integration is difficult. "Relationships here are transactional, more than anything" says one young successful South African.

On his journey around the greater Johannesburg metropolitan area, Joan Bardeletti chose to use food as a compass, a common thread, to trace these societal changes. Each scene says something about the way people buy, cook and consume food: the places they shop, how they eat, the junk food that is consumed in drive through car parks and the sausages eaten at the end of a long night's dancing.

["Cheese Boy" is township slang for someone who has money i.e. someone who can afford to put cheese in his or her sandwich]
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