No Man’s Land

Anke Loots No Man's Land


One-o-nine Mann Street. My 4 year old sister would recite our address to anyone who thought she was cute, showing off her brainpower.
The driveway is our bumpy roller-rink and our dachshund’s gnawings are on the lower half of the front door.

To catch a bat at twilight, according to Simon from next door, you need a tennis ball stuffed in the leg of your mom’s pantyhose.
Toss it up, the bats think it’s a moth and they get stuck and you catch it. We never catch one.

We see a movie where people jump from a burning building in to a blanket held by firemen.
And so we try it using a fluffy pink blanket with matching pink satin around the edges.
The satin makes it hard to grip, as children, one after the other, plunge into it from the second storey.

Suburbia is a realm of freedom, until it’s not.

The suburbs and its entrapping quality is a theme explored in literature time and again –
from Jeffrey Eugenides’ Virgin Suicides set in Grosse Point, Michigan; to Haruki Murakami’s lurid descriptions of a mundane Japan.
Wherever the freestanding, only-a-train-ride-away residences were seeded and sprawled, the depictions of life from within followed.

An excerpt from Murakami’s South of the Border, West of the Sun:

“…until I moved to Tokyo to go to college, I was convinced everyone in the whole world lived in a single-family home with a garden and a pet,
and commuted to work decked out in a suit. I couldn’t for the life of me imagine a different lifestyle.”

The appeal of the suburban settlements arrived with the evolution of transport. The Metro in London.
The Ford Model T in the US. In this era, the new smelling, freshly built dwellings were considered refuge from inner cities.
A sanctuary only a short commute away from the unsanitary and morally corrupt.

Every major exodus from the city since has been a fleeing of some nature.
Post World War II, the desegregation of urban areas, brought on by the American Civil Rights Movement, prompted the ‘White Flight’ –
a mass migration of white people from cities to the suburbs.

In the minds of many liberals and teens, the seemingly perfect picture of suburbia is the hell to be evaded.

It’s the type of creatively barren space that compels youth to pick up an instrument, find a garage and search for their voice.
See Joy Division, The Rolling Stones and Nirvana. Others lock themselves in their poster-plastered, north-facing bedrooms until they are free to leave.
They consume music that offers a secret passageway to escape the pleasantries and predictability.
See preferred playlist: Joy Division, The Rolling Stones and Nirvana.

After college, once employed, with the earning potential and stability to apply for a loan and a first-born due in March, we move back.
The child will need a driveway for a roller-rink and a dachshund.



Anke Loots No Man's LandAnke Loots No Man's LandAnke Loots No Man's LandAnke Loots No Man's LandAnke Loots No Man's LandAnke Loots No Man's LandAnke Loots No Man's Land


Photographs by Anke Loots
Styled and modelled by Azuli Peeters
Video shot and edited by Alistair Blair
Make-up by Marchet Terblanche
Assistant: Sarah Byram

Words by Terri De Sousa


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