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Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and The Bureaucracy of Everyday Life

13.02.2014 – 29.06.2014 / Museum Africa, Newtown, Johannesburg
An exhibition organised by the International Centre of Photography

Press--RF Images--08 Khumalo.12

Alf Khumalo, South Africa goes on trial. Police and crowd outside court. The whole world was watching when the three major sabotage trials started in Pretoria, Cape Town and Maritzburg. Outside the palace of Justice during the Rivonia Trial, 1963. Courtesy of Baileys African History Archive. ©Baileys African History Archive.

“… the end of apartheid laws could not ease the scars born of those laws. Those scars, a product of apartheid’s debilitating degradation of black lives, remain visibly inscribed in the social fabric of the country today.” – Okwui Enwezor

The culmination of a tour that has included venues in New York, Munich and Milan, Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life comes to South Africa as part of 20 Years of Democracy. On view at Museum Africa in Newtown, Johannesburg, from 13 February to 29 June 2014, the exhibition offers an unprecedented and comprehensive historical overview of the pictorial response to apartheid.

Apartheid transformed the modern political meaning of citizenship, inventing a wholly new society in fact and law. The result was a reorganisation of civic, economic and political structures that penetrated even the most mundane aspects of social existence in South Africa. Institutions for housing, public amenities, transportation, education, tourism, religion and business were transformed for the sole purpose of denying and depriving Africans, Coloureds and Asians of their basic civil rights, a transformation that extended into the personal lives of every South African.

Based on more than six years of research, the exhibition examines the aesthetic power of the documentary form – from the photo essay to reportage, social documentary to photojournalism and art – in recording, analysing, articulating and confronting the legacy of apartheid, including its impact on everyday life now in South Africa.

The exhibition argues that the rise of the Afrikaner National Party changed the pictorial perception of the country into a highly contested space based on the ideals of equality, democracy and civil rights. Photography was almost instantaneously alert to apartheid, changing its own visual language from a purely anthropological tool into a social instrument. Because of this, no one else photographed South Africa’s liberation struggle better, more critically and incisively, with deep pictorial complexity and penetrating insight, than South African photographers. It is the goal of this exhibition to explore and pay tribute to their exceptional achievement.

Encompassing the entire East Wing of Museum Africa, Rise and Fall of Apartheid encompasses over 800 works by more than 70 photographers, artists and filmmakers. It features complex, vivid, evocative and dramatic visual productions that form part of modern South Africa’s historical record.

The exhibition brings together a rich tapestry of materials that have rarely been shown together. From the work of members of Drum Magazine in the 1950s to the Afrapix Collective in the 1980s and the reportage of the so-called Bang Bang Club, the exhibition includes exceptional works by pioneering photographers, including Leon Levson, Eli Weinberg, David Goldblatt, Peter Magubane, Alf Kumalo, Jurgen Schadeberg, Sam Nzima, Ernest Cole, George Hallet, Omar Badsha, Gideon Mendel, Paul Weinberg, John Liebenberg, Kevin Carter, Joao Silva and Greg Marinovich. The responses of contemporary artists explore the impact of apartheid as it continues to resonate today – among them Sue Williamson, Jo Ractliffe, Jane Alexander, Santu Mofokeng, Guy Tillimand William Kentridge. In addition, Rise and Fall of Apartheid includes works by a new generation of artists and photographers such as Sabelo Mlangeni, Thabiso Sekgale and the Center for Historical Reenactments.

13 February 2014 – 29 June 2014
Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life is curated by Okwui Enwezor with Rory Bester and made possible with support from Mark McCain and Caro MacDonald/Eye and I, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the ICP Exhibitions Committee, National Endowment fo the Arts, Joseph and Joan Cullman Foundation for the Arts, Deborah Jerome and Peter Guggenheimer, and from the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation in honour of 30 years of committed ICO service by Willis E Hartshorn.

This edition of the exhibition is brought to Johannesburg by the South African Department of Arts and Culture and the Ford Foundation, supported by the City of Johannesburg, Museum Africa, the European Union, the Goethe-Institut, the Austrian Embassy, the British Council, EUNIC, the German Embassy, the French Institute of South Africa, the Swiss Embassy and the University of the Witwatersrand.


Okwui Enwezor is Director of Haus der Kunst, Munich. Before joining Haus der Kunst, Enwezor was Adjunct Curator at ICP and Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice President at San Francisco Art Institute. Most recently he was the Artistic Director of La Triennale 2012 at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, and has served as the Artistic Director of the 2nd Johannesburg Biennale (1997), Documenta11 (2002), and 7th Gwangju Biennale (2008) amongst many other international exhibitions. Enwezor served as the Kirk Varnedoe Visiting Professor at Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. He is the founding publisher and editor of Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art.

Rory Bester is an art historian and critic, as well as a curator and documentary filmmaker. Based at the Wits School of Arts in Johannesburg, where he is Head of History of Art, his teaching and research include archive and museum practice, curatorial studies, exhibition histories, photographic practice and post colonialism. He regularly writes art criticism for the Mail and Guardian newspaper, as well as for Art South Africa, Camera Austria and Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art. Bester has curated and co-curated a number of exhibitions in Denmark, Germany, South Africa, Sweden and the United States.

The International Center of Photography (ICP) was founded in 1974 by Cornell Capa (1918-2008) as an institution dedicated to photography that occupies a vital and central place in contemporary culture as it reflects and influences social change. Through our museum, school and community programmes, we embrace photography’s ability to open new opportunities for personal and aesthetic expression, transform popular culture, and continually evolve to incorporate new technologies. ICP has presented more than 500 exhibitions, bringing the work of more than 3,000 photographers and other artists to the public in one-person and group exhibitions and provided thousands of classes and workshops that have enriched tens of thousands of students.
Visit www.icp.org for more information.

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