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40/40: Politics of Photography Exhibition

40/40: Politics of Photography at Market Photo Workshop

The Market Photo Workshop, a leading photojournalism training space, in partnership with Soweto based Black Ink Arts and the June 16th Foundation, is commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Soweto youth uprisings of 16 June 1976, and the role that photography played in progressively documenting youth uprisings and protests until present with the 40/40: Politics of Photography exhibition.

The photography exhibition presents some never before seen photographs from Soweto-based veteran photographers’s personal photography archives, who recorded the moments that would come to contribute to shaping the course of mordern South African history. Len Khumalo and Bongani Mnguni who documented the 1976 uprisings, together with Tladi Khuele and Antonio Muchave who documented youth protests of the 1980s and 90s in townships, are part of this group exhibition that celebrates the 40 years of photographing youth protest in South Africa.

Their photos, 40 images of 40 years, will be shown alongside Market Photo Workshop Photojournalism and Documentary Photography programme graduates, Jabulile Pearl Hlanze, Tshepiso Mabula, Nokuthula Mbatha, and Lihlumelo Toyana, all of whom documented the FeesMustFall student campaigns in 2015.

Photography Exhibition Concept

The photography exhibition aims to go beyond a journalistic interrogation of activism, to engage it as a complex process that continually involves negotiations of the terms on which the acts of activism are founded. As such, it rejects the transparency of collective political action and focuses on the effects and circumstances these actions produce. Opening the discourse on youth activism in this way affords a space of contemplation that not only questions romanticized conceptions of ‘the youth’ but also the univocality often ascribed to its collective acts.

As much as it is a commemoration of the history of youth activism, it then also asks how activism is varyingly conceived and interpreted as either a mode of rejection or questioning. In the ongoing activities of youth activists today, the various ways in which these conceptions are enacted reveal that not only is there an ongoing interest in social issues that have not been resolved since 1976, but also an evolution in how these issues are conceived and adressed.

The photography exhibition will thereafter be on display at the June 16 Memorial Acre in Soweto in August 2016, with a public talk on the status of black photojournalists and documentary photographers archives in townships.

For more information please visit Market Photo Workshop.

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