then & now coverThen & Now

Initiated and curated by Paul Weinberg, Then & Now is a major project featuring the work of eight South African photographers whose careers have straddled South Africa’s transition to democracy.

The other contributors are David Goldblatt, George Hallett, Eric Miller, Cedric Nunn, Guy Tillim, Graeme Williams, and Gisèle Wulfsohn. Almost all of them were members of Afrapix, the collective photo agency that played a central role in documenting the political conflict in South Africa the 1980s and early 1990s.

The collection has been exhibited in all the major South African centres, and has travelled in the United States, Europe and Australia.

Besides the exhibition, the project comprises a video documentary featuring interviews with the contributors, and a book featuring the entire collection of photographs, a critical essay, and extracts from the interviews.

It is managed by the Centre for Curating the Archive in the Michaelis School of Fine Art of the University of Cape Town, and funded by the Conference, Workshop and Cultural Initiative (CWCI) Fund, a partnership programme between South Africa and the European Union; and the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library at Duke University in the United States.

‘In essence, Then & Now is a dialogue with photographers who have photographed and continue to photograph in two distinct periods in our history: during and after apartheid. The participating photographers were asked to select ten images taken before and after apartheid, which they felt exemplified their work during in those very different periods.

‘They were also interviewed about their work, and their approach to photography, during those periods. The various narratives are a product of that process of interaction, and develop on several levels: photographically, intellectually and personally.

‘This anthology is also a reunion of a community of photographers who have known each other for many years, and were all associated with a particular photographic movement in the turbulent 1980s and early 1990s. In a way, Then & Now is a journey shared by all of us who have recorded, observed and lived through those extraordinary times.’

An End to Waiting

In 1994, Paul Weinberg headed a team of photographers which recorded the activities of the Independent Electoral Commission, tasked with staging South Africa’s first democratic elections. The photographs are held in the archives of the Electoral Commission, and were published in a book entitled An End to Waiting: South Africa’s first democratic elections, 1995. Weinberg’s images form an important part of this collection.

‘On 26 April 1994, after centuries of minority rule and rising resistance to political domination, some 20 million South Africans of all races, creeds and colours cast their ballot in the country’s first inclusive election. Undeterred by bomb blasts and bloodshed in the run-up to the elections, they voted peacefully for a national assembly and nine provincial legislatures. Most were first-time voters, roughly half of them functionally illiterate. International observers unanimously endorsed the election as free and fair. It was an historic undertaking,and a national triumph. My images, and those of my colleagues, provide a unique record of this historic process.’

Ernest Cole Award

The Ernest Cole Photographic Award has been established to stimulate creative photographic work in southern Africa with an emphasis on human rights and social change. Initiated by Paul Weinberg and David Goldblatt, and managed by UCT Libraries, it provides the winning photographer with the resources to complete, exhibit and publish a significant photographic project.

The award is named after the courageous and pioneering black documentary photographer Ernest Cole, who recorded the social effects of apartheid in the 1950s and 1960s. Sought by the South African police, he fled the country in 1966, and died in exile in New York in 1990.

The award is now in its third year. It was awarded to Dale Yudelman in 2011, and Ilan Godfrey in 2012. For more, see http://ernestcoleaward.org