Guy Tillim
Guy Tillim
Jo-berg
White residents fled Johannesburg's inner city in the 1990s. The removal of the Group Areas Act foreshadowed a flow into the city of black residents and owners of small businesses seeking opportunities and better lives. Former denizens looked back in self-righteous justification at a city that was given over to plunder and mayhem. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy, backed up by eyewitness reports and statistics. Everyone had their horror stories. In amongst this turmoil existed the tower blocks occupied by tenants who were holding onto occupancy and managing the buildings in ways of their own devising. Their story had gone something like this: in the 1990s the owners absconded, leaving managing agents to retrieve what rents they could. In mos cases, these agents were corrupt, did not pay the utilities, and disappeared with the money. These were tidy sums, handed over by poor people who conscientiously paid up to avoid having to go back where they came from. The decay of Jo'burg's centre can be ascribed to many factors but perhaps none more so than the absence of Body Corporates. These had become relics of a more genteel era; the communal responsibilities that are contentious in even the most well-heeled blocks were not marked out. Windows were broken and not repaired. Lifts froze and their shafts became tips. The relationship between tenants and owners or their agents deteriorated with disputes over the state of the buildings, and in some cases resulted in unpaid rents and dues. The buildings started looking like fire hazards, and the City Council began closing on them for unpaid utilities. In between the needs of City Council and the aspirations of developers anticipating the bloom of an African city lies the fate of Jo'burg's residents. The outcome will decide whether or not Johannesburg becomes, again, a city of exclusion.

Biography
Tillim was born in Johannesburg in 1962 and lives in Cape Town. He started photographing professionally in 1986, working with the Afrapix collective until 1990. His work as a freelance photographer in South Africa for the local and foreign media included positions with Reuters between 1986 and 1988, and Agence France Presse in 1993 and 1994. Tillim has received awards for his work including the Leica Oskar Barnack Award in 2005 and the first Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography from the Peabody Museum at Harvard University in 2006. His series Avenue Patrice Lumumba has shown at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris; Museu Serralves in Porto; FOAM,Fotografiemuseum in Amsterdam, among many other venues. His work was included on Documenta 12 in 2007 and the Sao Paulo Bienal in 2006.