Seeing the words “shot” and “Jo’burg” in one sentence is, sadly, not unusual for South Africans. Jozi is a rough city with a rough crowd and life on the streets aint easy for the kids of Hillbrow, one of the city’s most notorious suburbs.
It’s therefore a relief to discover that “I Was Shot in Joburg” is a victim’s testimony of the more positive variety. It’s an initiative by the non-profit Studio_Bernard Viljoen Foundation that is giving street children a creative platform.
Viljoen explains that the initiative started off as a community project teaching photography skills to street kids. A group of boys from Twilight Children, a shelter in Hillbrow, were taught the ins-and-outs of photography, and then took to the streets to capture and document their immediate environment. This project resulted in an exhibition at Arts on Main at the end of 2009.
Having grown very fond of the children, Viljoen started another initiative, but this time looked at ways in which it could generate an income.
“I Was Shot in Joburg” takes portrait shots of people on the streets of Jo’Burg. The pics are then uploaded to the project’s website from where anybody can order a T-shirt with their photo, or that of a complete stranger – just because it’s really cool, to wear on the streets of the rest of the world.