Events

Photography’s Role in Shaping South Africa’s History and Contemporary Culture

The head of Johannesburg’s Market Photo Workshop and an artist who studied there discuss the medium’s impact on how South Africans remember their pasts and picture their futures.

Lebohang Kganye, "Ka phisi yaka e pinky II" (2013), inkjet print on cotton rag paper, 42 x 42 cm (© Lebohang Kganye, courtesy Afronova Gallery)
Lebohang Kganye, “Ka phisi yaka e pinky II” (2013), inkjet print on cotton rag paper, 42 x 42 cm (© Lebohang Kganye, courtesy Afronova Gallery)

What is photography’s role in shaping a modern nation’s image of itself? How can the camera be a tool for not only making new images? And how can sophisticated visual literacy help remedy historical inequalities in eduction and access? These are some of the questions that Johannesburg’s Market Photo Workshop (MPW) has wrestled with since it was founded by the South African photographer David Goldblatt in 1989. They will also be taken up on Thursday night at the Open Society Foundation’s New York space, during a conversation between the current head of MPW, Lekgetho Makola, alumnus and artist Lebohang Kganye, and Sean Jacobs, the founder and editor of the blog Africa is a Country.

Lebohang Kganye, "Ka mose wa malomo kwana 44 II" (2013), inkjet print on cotton rag paper, 42 x 29.7 cm (© Lebohang Kganye, courtesy Afronova Gallery)
Lebohang Kganye, “Ka mose wa malomo kwana 44 II” (2013), inkjet print on cotton rag paper, 42 x 29.7 cm (© Lebohang Kganye, courtesy Afronova Gallery)

Kganye’s own work (which will also be showcased at next month’s 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in Brooklyn) plays on issues of memory, often transforming photographs to create highly stylized, subjective images and evocative installations, or incorporating elements of performance. One particularly powerful series, Ke Lefa Laka (“Her Story”), features old photos of the artist’s mother onto which she has superimposed contemporary images of herself in similar outfits, poses, and settings. In these juxtapositions, the artist resembles a ghostly double of her own mother, suggesting how much and how little has changed in their respective lifetimes.

When: Thursday, April 19, 6–8pm
Where: Open Society Foundation New York (224 West 57th Street, Midtown, Manhattan)

More info at Open Society.

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