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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Power, secrecy, proximity: a short history of South African photography
Author:Hayes, PatriciaISNI
Periodical:Kronos: Journal of Cape History
Geographic term:South Africa
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/41056585
Abstract:Photography came to South Africa in the wake of 19th-century merchant and colonial empires. The adoption of the wet plate ensured that photography expanded in South Africa in the 1850s. Photography in southern Africa in the late 19th century is related to the history of exploration, colonization, knowledge production and captivity. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the white elite as well as black families sought their portraits. In the 1950s, a platform emerged which allowed for the new and dynamic expression of a cohort of black photographers. A key figure in the overtly politicised generation of the 1980s, Omar Badsha, cofounded the progressive photographic collective and agency Afrapix. The predominant photographic themes were forced removals, marches, meetings, rallies, and later, funerals, one of the priorities for photographers being exposure. As South Africa became 'big news' from the mid-1980s onwards, market forces through the press, and outside interests, had started to dictate the kinds of photographs that 'sold' and professionalization became one of the key debates within Afrapix. With Nelson Mandela's release from prison in 1990, the photographic economy shifted, with international competition putting pressure on the culture of solidarity, but the need to mark the social in some way persists among a number of contemporary South African photographers. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]