#HiddenFlows photographic dialogue: photographers and city officials

#HiddenFlows photographic dialogue: photographers and city officials

Exploring urban metabolism and informality in African cities through photography and storytelling to shape inclusive urban policy and equitable access to urban resources.

Date: Thursday 27/05/2021

Time: 15:00 – 17:00

Host: ICLEI Africa

Cape Town, South Africa

How are urban resources accessed, moved and used in your African city? The Hidden Flows photography exhibition explored this question through crowdsourced and commissioned imagery as a way to visualise and understand the urban metabolism in African cities. Urban metabolism is the flow of resources such as food, water, energy, waste and people through the city. Informal and decentralised urban resource flows are widespread in African cities and, because of their informal nature, most of the way in which they move through cities and the infrastructures that move them go unnoticed. The Hidden Flows photography exhibition seeks to bring to light the people, resources and infrastructures which support our lives, yet go unseen – either because they are literally buried, covered or hidden, or because we take them for granted despite them being right in front of us. It highlights that if data is required to make decisions, but no data is available to describe how private individuals enrich our urban economies, then these people and these systems are effectively rendered invisible. Hidden Flows therefore aimed to uncover and make visible these informal and hidden processes, to support alternative knowledge production and to use this qualitative data as a basis for interrogation and discussion with city decision-makers. This workshop invites artists, photographers, urban practitioners and city officials to make meaning of the photographic data presented by the Hidden Flows photography exhibition, to explore the themes that emerge from these images, and to determine what this means for future urban policy development. Hidden Flows forms part of a broader research project on informality and urban metabolism undertaken by Stellenbosch University Sustainability Institute, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and ICLEI Africa, and is funded by the Leading Integrated Research in Africa (LIRA) 2030.