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Marc Shoul: Dog Walkers, Bronan with Rufus, Wolfgang Road, Norwood (detail)

Work / Photography

Marc Shoul photographs Johannesburg domestics walking their employers’ dogs

Driving around Johannesburg early in the mornings, photographer Marc Shoul was puzzled by the number of domestic workers he saw out walking their employers’ dogs. “The complexion of servitude is pretty obvious in the city, even as things change,” he explains. “When I see domestic workers, some in uniform, walking their owners’ dogs, it is hard not to reflect on how unaffected the rituals of suburban affluence are during this period of seismic urban change.”

He decided to photograph the men and women he saw, compiling the images into a series called Dog Walkers, which is as much of record of the strange repetitive patterns of social history as it is an interesting insight into this odd job requirement. As well as capturing scenes of suburban South Africa, the series seems to document feelings of inertia and guilt on the part of the middle class at not being able to walk their own dogs. “Yes, implicit in this series of portraits is social commentary about men and women quietly engaged in a complicated ritual of leisure and labour,” Marc continues. “But it is also an essay on the unremarkable facets of suburban life in post-apartheid South Africa.”

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Marc Shoul: Dog Walkers, Cyril and Chiko, Bristol Road, Saxonwold

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Marc Shoul: Dog Walkers, Danny with Monty, 3rd Avenue, Houghton Estate

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Marc Shoul: Dog Walkers, Hamilton with Sophie, Burford Road, Victoria

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Marc Shoul: Dog Walkers, Joyce with Mo, Corner Westwold Way and Lynstanwold Road, Saxonwold

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Marc Shoul: Dog Walkers, Lucas with Chewy and Stella, 8th Street, Riviera

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Marc Shoul: Dog Walkers, Terence with Emma, River Street, Riviera

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Marc Shoul: Dog Walkers, Willamina with Jack, Fred and Fluffy, 8th Avenue, Riviera

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Marc Shoul: Dog Walkers, Bronan with Rufus, Wolfgang Road, Norwood