In 2017, I was awarded the Ernest Cole Photographic Award on the basis of a proposal for a long-form documentary on the material reality of digging and burning coal for electricity in Mpumalanga.
The idea for the project came about when I went to the province for the first time in 2015 and was appalled at the state of the land and the colossal amount of pollution present in the air, water and land itself. Digging deeper, I found that the state of the landscape mirrored the conditions of the working poor of Mpumalanga, whose bodies, livelihoods and very lives are being destroyed in the name of coal and electricity production. I have been working there since then, trying to reflect the injustice of life under coal.
This selection of images is a unique edit of the work on display at the Wits Art Museum in Johannesburg in October. It includes photographs that do not appear in the exhibition or the book, Broken Land, which is published by Jacana Media. The captions provide additional insight into the environmental and human rights abuses intrinsic to the electricity we use every day.
Photographer and New Frame visual editor Daylin Paul’s book and exhibition, Broken Land, launches at the Wits Art Museum in Johannesburg on Tuesday 8 October and is on show until Sunday 27 October.