March 15, 2014 / June 8, 2014 Apartheid & After
Paul Alberts, Hugh Exton, David Goldblatt, Pieter Hugo, Santu Mofokeng, Sabelo Mlangeni, Zanele Muholi, Daniel Naudé, Jo Ractliffe, Mikhael Subotzky, Guy Tillim, Paul Weinberg, Graeme Williams and the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg
The exhibition Apartheid & After reveals how powerfully the recent past can colour our perception of the present; this theme runs through the work of all twelve participating photographers after 1990. However powerful the individual images may be, this is photography with a hidden agenda – in a positive sense of the word. Knowledge of the past brings the present into sharp focus, and vice versa. It’s a tightrope act. Being a photographer in South Africa demands a sober, articulate, and skilled approach to the country’s burden of memory, trauma, and resulting guilt, as well as to the mysterious colouring and extravagant beauty of Africa so eagerly exploited by today’s tourist industry.
The exhibition Apartheid & After, which is based on an idea by David Goldblatt, aims to display the quality, diversity and dynamism of contemporary South African photography to a Dutch audience; there are, after all, historic links between the two countries. Today, twenty years after South Africa’s first-ever free elections were held in 1994, Goldblatt is not alone in having a solid international reputation; he is joined by Guy Tillim, Jo Ractliffe, Santu Mofokeng, Zanele Muholi and Pieter Hugo, as well as by a new cohort of younger photographers such as Mikhael Subotzky, Daniel Naudé, and Sabelo Mlangeni. The dynamism and breadth of contemporary South African photography is due in no small part to the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg, where – under John Fleetwood’s leadership – many remarkable talents have emerged over a comparatively short period of time.
‘It is astonishing to think that until the beginning of the 1990s, merely two decades ago, modern and contemporary African photography was largely in the shadows.’ Okwui Enwezor in ‘Events of the Self: Portraiture and Social Identity: Contemporary African Photography from the Walther Collection’, Steidl 2013 p.23.