The Evidence of Things Not Seen, a reference in part to James Baldwin’s book of the same title, speaks to the intangible but pervasive nature of identity. Using works from the JAG collection exclusively by artists of colour, this exhibition looks at the influential role photography played as a visual weapon and means to document the struggle against apartheid.
Of all art mediums, photography is perhaps the greatest weapon against exposing and calling to order injustice. A photograph has a sense of immediacy and cannot be denied.
The term resistance photography refers to photography that challenged the paradigms, policies, actions and visual narratives of the apartheid regime.
The apartheid city was a strategically segregated form of urban planning that facilitated the white economy's dependence cheap migrant labour.
This image shows a pass book raid outside Johannesburg Station - a major transport hub for blacks who had to travel to their jobs in the city and white suburbia.
Throughout much of the 20th century, the mining industry was a major employer and driver of the South African economy. Thousands of black men from the rural areas were recruited to work on the gold mines around Johannesburg.
Only employed for an 18-month period at a time, recruits lived in crowded single-sex hostels without familial visitation rights. This photo shows a group of new mine recruits are lined up in the nude for a compulsory group medical examination.
One of the cruelest manifestations of the apartheid economy's dependence on cheap labour was the 1953 Bantu Education Act. The act was designed to service the white economy with a constant supply of cheap manually skilled labour.
In the above photo Cole evocatively captures young children kneeling on floor to write - because the apartheid government was took a casual approach to furnishing schools for blacks.
In the book, Cole writes: "Three-hundred years of white supremacy in South Africa has placed us in bondage, stripped us of our dignity, robbed us of our self-esteem and surrounded us with hate".
The apartheid government banned the book upon release, and in the following year (1968) Cole himself was banned from South Africa and went to settle in the USA.
Apartheid didn't only seek to control the free movement of black South Africans, but also sanctioned personal relationships. The Immorality Act of 1950 prohibited sexual relations between white people and people of other races. In this picture called Love Across the Colour Line Kally shows a couple defying the law in the face of strong penalties. Found guilty, transgressors could be sentenced to a maximum of seven years compulsory hard labour.
Stop it Verwoerd is part of Nhlengethwa's Glimpses of the 50's and 60's colour photo lithography series. Verwoerd is generally regarded as the architect of grand apartheid. Under his tenure as South African Prime Minister (1958-1966), Verwoerd ordered a secret all-out offensive against all opposers of apartheid that resulted in tens of thousands of people being detained, imprisoned, exiled, assaulted, tortured and killed.
This photo collage, incorporating elements from Ernest Cole's pictures, tells the story of the tragic 1960 Sharpeville Massacre, where 69 black South Africans lost their lives at the hands of the police during a protest against apartheid pass laws.
Today the 21st of March is a South African public holiday that observes and celebrates human rights and commemorates the the victims of Sharpeville massacre.