Elis Hoffman

2017 - 2019

A search for safety and somewhere to belong. To feel meaninglessness and exhaustion without context. Clinging to the everyday things, almost like a ritual. Escaping your thoughts to get a moment of inner peace. Like the feeling of being in a vacuum without seeing any way out. At the same time a sense of pride for not giving up. And the important moments of social interaction that gets you through the day.

As a reaction on the growing xenophobia in Sweden and Europe I decided to travel to South Africa. A country that through history has become known for racism and segregation. In South Africa the colour of your skin is still a part of everyday life. It is easy to focus on subject matters like racism and segregation. That’s why I started to search for places were people of different colours lived together. I finally found something very unusual, a small squatter camp outside Johannesburg. Were 300 people lived in their makeshift sheds on an area not much larger than a Football field.

With my background it’s impossible to understand how their lives are and how South Africa’s history has affected it’s population. The only thing I could do is to try to understand by spending time at the camp. I often thought about the moral aspect of me being there photographing. As a visitor from Sweden, a place far different than theirs. Instead of portraying there lives I started to photograph what I could understand. Through exploring the emotions that I could identify with and portraying them in an intuitive way.

Our existential needs are fundamentally very similar. Whatever you’re background and your life looks like, we want to feel safe and that we belong somewhere. Our dreams can be different but our needs are the same. “Shadows” is a series that portray an emotional state as well as shed light on people that feel marginalized and forgotten.

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