Through a dark lens

The flagship exhibition of the trio, all sponsored by the Gauteng Tourism Authority, is aimed at foreign delegates attending the summit and takes place at the viewing deck of Johannesburg International airport.

The exhibition features the work of seasoned documentary photographer Peter Magubane and is endorsed by Unicef. Renowned for his work during the apartheid years, Magubane’s focus in this exhibition is child labour in South Africa. A potent (and brave) message for transit lounge passengers. Magubane spares no thought for pleasantries in depicting three decades of child labour, but still manages a positive spin. He includes evocative images of street children who he helped reunite with their families. An indication of just how deeply involved he becomes with his subject matter.

Among the photographs Magubane has selected to exhibit, one can expect to see instances of children (some as young as four years) working on farms, shovelling coal in Soweto’s coal yards and carrying heavy loads as shop assistants during the late 1970s through to the late 1980s. An image that stands out for its texture and lighting as well as its shocking story is focused on a young coal worker’s hands. One could mistake this child’s weathered and calloused hands for those of a man far beyond the formative age of 14 years.

The Magubane exhibition is balanced by a lighter look at life in the apartheid years by veteran photographers Alf Kumalo, Bob Gusani and Ralph Ndawo, taking place in Soweto. The work of the latter two photographers will posthumously include work never before exhibited. Included are Gusani’s photographs of jazz diva Dolly Rathebe and portraits of “The Americans” — according to Drum — Sophiatown’s most notorious gang.

The images with more of a political slant, include an impressive photograph by Kumalo of Winnie Mandela climbing the stairs to the Rivonia trial courtroom defiantly dressed in a black suit, yellow shirt and green hat. Ndawo captures an intimate picture of the veiled face of Veronica Sobukwe at the funeral of her husband, Robert Sobukwe, in 1978.


The third exhibition is being held at the Ultrec sports grounds in Alexandria and showcases contemporary images of life in Alex by photographer Caroline Suzman. Suzman’s is the only one out the three exhibitions wholly in colour, which makes for a vivid and dramatic collection. Suzman, a Johannesburg-based photographer, is no stranger to Alex and is known to climb knee-deep into a truckload of chicken feet to capture “just the right angle”. No small task for a strict vegetarian. When asked what her idea of life in Alex is like she said: “Often sad and dark on the inside but surprisingly cheerful on the surface.”

Peter Magubane’s exhibition starts on August 26 and ends on September 30 at the viewing deck of Jo’burg airport. Alf Kumalo, Ralph Ndawo and Bob Gusani’s work will be exhibited at the Oppenheimer Towers in Soweto from August 26 until September 15. Caroline Suzman’s work will be exhibited at Ultrec Stadium, Alex from August 26 to September 15

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

Pandemic hobbles learners’ futures

South African schools have yet to open for the 2021 academic year and experts are sounding the alarm over lost learning time, especially in the crucial grades one and 12

More top stories

Zuma, Zondo play the waiting game

The former president says he will talk once the courts have ruled, but the head of the state capture inquiry appears resigned to letting the clock run out as the commission's deadline nears

Disinformation harms health and democracy

Conspiracy theorists abuse emotive topics to suck the air out of legitimate debate and further their own sinister agendas

Uganda: ‘I have never seen this much tear-gas in an...

Counting was slow across Uganda as a result of the internet shutdown, which affected some of the biometric machines used to validate voter registrations.

No way out for Thales in arms deal case, court...

The arms manufacturer has argued that there was no evidence to show that it was aware of hundreds of indirect payments to Jacob Zuma, but the court was not convinced.
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…