14 Jan - 18 Feb 2019

Protest: Activism and Counter-Representation in South African Photography

Mondays 14 January - 18 February, 18:30 - 20:00

Articulated around the notion of ‘protest’, Julie Bonzon leads a six-week exploration of South African photography and its relationship with socio-political struggles.

As South Africa transitioned to democracy in 1994, cultural boycotts were lifted and the country entered into a globalised market sphere; photographic practice shifted as a result of these changes. The course will focus on the role of photography as an oppressive and then emancipatory tool during apartheid, before considering the photographic narratives shaping the South African post-colonial and globalised landscape. Photographic series from the pre- and post-apartheid period will be selected for discussion and their activist and political stake critically analysed.

Key works and photographers such as David Goldblatt, Ernest Cole, Santu Mofokeng, Jodi Bieber, Zanele Muholi and Lebohang Kganye will reflect on the highly diverse character of the South African photographic production, as well as artistic and national shared preoccupations. Participants are encouraged to question what ‘protest’, activism and counter-narrative mean photographically and how such images in South Africa have shaped the representation of the country, both within and outside its borders.   

This course is aimed at those wanting to develop knowledge of photography and expand their visual literacy skills to a non Euro-American context, as well as those wanting to reinterpret their current understanding of documentary and activist photography. Participants will be invited to bring their own photographs or images that interest them to reflect upon each session.

Week 1 - Considering the notion of ‘protest’ in photography

We open with a brief history of documentary photography in Europe and North America (The Farm Security Administration, The Family of Man, Magnum Photos), in order to reflect upon photography in a South African context.   

Week 2 - Pre-1994

‘Struggle Photography’ and social documentary in South Africa: Afrapix, The Bang Bang Club, Drum magazine, David Goldblatt and Santu Mofokeng.

Week 3 - Post-1994

The ‘Identity’ decade: Jodi Bieber, Zanele Muholi, Pieter Hugo, Sabelo Mlangeni, and Okwui Enwezor’s exhibition Snap Judgements, New Positions in Contemporary African Photography.

Week 4 - Revisiting the photographic archive

Santu Mofokeng, Zanele Muholi, Lebohang Kganye and Phumzile Khanyile.

Week 5 - Fashioning gender and youth culture in a globalised landscape

Nontsikelelo Veleko, Musa N. Nxumalo and Sipho Gongxeka.

Week 6 - Land, trauma and heritage

The politics of remembering: David Goldblatt, Jo Ractliffe, Thabiso Sekgala, Matt Kay, and Sethembile Msezane.

Julie Bonzon is a PhD candidate in History of Art at University College London. She completed a Masters in History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London in 2015, for which she was awarded Distinction. Julie has worked for the Cultural Department of Magnum Photos London, The Ian Parry Scholarship 2018 and has written for numerous publications including The Eye of Photography Magazine and Telling Time, the catalogue of the 10th Bamako Biennale. Her thesis Identity in Protest: The Market Photo Workshop and the New Generation of South African Photographers investigates how young South African photographers negotiate notions of youth, gender and heritage through their visual practices.

£200/£180 Members & Concessions

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