The University of North West (NWU) Gallery will host two photographic exhibitions this 12 February – 21 March 2022, namely Mike Mzileni: A photographic archival journey at the NWU Botanical Gardens Gallery, and Inganekwane at the NWU Main Gallery.
Mike Mzileni: A photographic archival journey
A photographic archival journey serves as a point of reflection for the photographer and Jazz lover, Mike Mzileni, who is best known for his iconic portraits and landscape images from the early 1970’s – 2000.
In this exhibition, the archival photographs, journalists and intellectuals reclaim their central place in our understanding of a period that laid the foundations for the global early photographs depicted by black photographers. South Africa’s story is truly told through the history of photography.
When Mzileni started his photographic journey, the term ‘Photojournalism’ had just been coined, and he was able to redefine photographic space and place as a black man in society, establishing his role as an important forerunner in the industry.
The exhibition is a thus a vital opportunity to reconsider our understanding of South African history.
Inganekwane is an exhibition by Of Soul and Joy Photo Project students who grew up in a community of historical violence. The project aims to interrogate personal histories and continuity of trauma as a generational experience. It’s through this social mapping that the students’ work intersects collective and private memory, of the transitional violence that occurred in Thokoza’s infamous Khumalo street. By participating in the collective narrative, the students’ work provides documentary photographs that are subjectively representational and cannot be viewed as fact but merge the present with the past.
Khumalo street is an arterial street that experienced a wave of transitional violence between 1991 and 1994. The violence emerged because of the conflict of ideologies between hostel dwellers who were politically aligned to the Inkatha Freedom Party and broader township residents who were aligned to the African National Congress. The violence persisted for three years with 3000 people being killed. It was during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that the complexities of understanding the reasons that led to this violent period emerged. The elements of comrade criminality and suspicion of state-sanctioned violence have created shifting social realities on what transpired.
The exhibition title, Inganekwane, is a Nguni word that means ‘storytelling’, ‘fable’ or ‘creation of history through a narrative performance’. The title aims to explore Khumalo Street as a site of memory where the community collective knowledge can be shared, performed and archived. It’s through this elaborative memory disposition by which the interconnection between narrative and history can be established.
Photographers: Sibusiso Bheka, Simphiwe Fuwe Molefe, Thembikosi Hlatshwayo, Litha Kanda, Vuyo Mabheka, Sikelela Mdilikwana, Lerato Maphoto, Lunathi Mngxuma, Xolani Ngubeni, Thobeka Nzwana, Sibusiso Sithonga and Siphiwe Vilikazi.
Mentors: Jabulani Dhlamini, Sabelo Mlangeni, Andrew Tshabangu and Thandile Zwelibanzi.
More details on the NWU Gallery website.