This portrait series represents a continuing theme and focus within Mann’s personal work investigating inequality and race politics in Cape Town, South Africa.
The women featured in this portraiture essay are domestic workers employed in homes in an area known as the ‘Southern Suburbs’ in Cape Town.
The Southern Suburbs is an affluent area in Cape Town, where the majority of the residents are white. The people living in this area represent a privileged and exclusive sector of South African society, their position is in stark contrast with the everyday experience of the majority of South Africans. Thus it is these people whom they employ to care for their homes and families who offer a much better insight into the harsh realities of post apartheid South Africa.
It is not uncommon for a domestic worker to be referred to as part of the family, despite the fact that their role within these spaces is that of an employee, and many women employed as domestic workers have their own families. Thus the boundaries between a traditional employer and employee are largely blurred in these instances, meaning their role within these homes and their presence within the spaces is a highly complex one.
Since the end of apartheid there has been very little socio-economic redress in South Africa, wealth and privilege are still very much held by a small white minority to the exclusion of the majority of black South Africans.
Based on the artist’s personal experience growing up within this inherently privileged community, these images bring focus onto the role these woman play in the domestic spaces in post-apartheid South Africa, where the presence of a full time domestic worker is perceived as the normal standard by many of the families who employ them.