Portals – Neville Lance

Photography

Set in the Tokai Forest at the foot of the Constantiaberg in Cape Town, South Africa, lie the ruins of the William Porter Reformatory. Constructed in 1890 and in use right up until the late 1980s, Neville Lance's monochrome photographs taken in late 2017 in the ruins of this reformatory constitute a testament to horrors and injustices that we can't begin to imagine. The evidence of the terror this institution represented is still extant there in a wide variety of forms, not least of which are the various openings (portals) that allow us to look at both extremes of life there from an inmate’s point of view. Youngsters were crowded into this very harsh prison-like environment under the constant surveillance of warders, many of whom were unemployed or ex-convicts. Warders either played by the rules of domination and subordination of inmates or lost their jobs, and arbitrary brutality and violence was a regular feature of reformatory life.