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August 19 2013

L'art après l'apartheid | Amateur d'art

L’art après l’apartheid | Amateur d’art

L’Afrique du Sud (où je ne suis allé qu’une seule fois) exerce un pouvoir certain de fascination, essentiellement pour la manière dont la réconciliation s’y est passée, en reconnaissant ce que fut l’histoire de l’apartheid, en ne niant pas ce qui s’était passé, mais en évitant la vengeance (on se prend à rêver à un tel scénario en Israël-Palestine, mais c’est un autre sujet ; prochaine expo à la Maison Rouge : My Jerusalem ???). Il est donc difficile d’aller voir une exposition d’art sud-africain sans garder à l’esprit tout ce contexte, que les artistes s’en inspirent ou qu’au contraire ils s’en distancent. Ce constant balancement entre art et histoire est ce qui fait l’intérêt de l’exposition My Joburg à la Maison Rouge (jusqu’au 22 septembre). Autant la précédente mouture, My Winnipeg, simple présentation d’une scène artistique marginale, était plate, autant cette exposition-ci est stimulante.

#Afrique_du_Sud #Johannesburg #My_Joburg #exposition

May 07 2010

Rankin on South Africa

The photographer was swept up by the energy and spirituality of an extraordinary Christian ritual cleansing ceremony in Johannesburg's Soweto township

Images from Rankin's exhibition and book, RANKINJOZI

South Africa is an incredible country, and one that has always captivated me. It is a country of unquestionable beauty, but beyond the natural majesty, it is a melting pot of social, religious and cultural diversity. I don't think I can ever even scratch the surface of this intriguing society. Last year, the BBC approached me with an idea for a documentary exploring the country's photographic traditions, and I leapt at the chance to do it. I wanted to learn more about South Africa, and this was the perfect opportunity to dig a little deeper and explore the country through the eyes of its pre-eminent photographers.

I spent three months researching the different photographers I would meet on my trip, their own stories and the disciplines they had mastered. While I was intrigued by photographers such as David Goldblatt and Alf Kumalo, it was Greg Marinovich from the Bang Bang Club (a group of photographers active within the townships during the Apartheid period) who I really felt like I struck up a friendship with. He is an incredible person, curious about everything, and fearless.

I spent a day with Greg photographing a ritual cleansing in the Klipspruit Stream. The river runs through the Soweto township, and every January, to mark the beginning of the new year, members of the African Zionist Church congregate there to celebrate. Hundreds of people participated throughout the day, and the spirituality was palpable, even when standing at a distance on the banks of the river and observing.

Greg was an inspiration – he got straight into the river and snorkelled to get underwater shots, to see the faces of those being cleansed as the water rushed about them and groups of up to eight people held them under.

I had no idea what to expect, so I just waded into the river to get up close to the action. The emotion of the people was intoxicating. Their energy, their exuberance, their relief, their joy, their sense of wellbeing . . . It's hard to describe, but was incredibly moving.

I was an outsider, but never felt like an intruder. They were happy to share their moments with me. It was a genuine celebration. I was fascinated by both the seemingly primitive nature of the cleansing (one man was cleansed with the blood of a freshly sacrificed chicken) and the joy of those taking part.

I guess my images can say more than anything I write can. It is something I will always remember, and I will always be thankful to Greg and the people of Soweto for inviting me to their celebration.

• Fashionable Melville, just east of Soweto, is a convenient district of Johannesburg in which to base yourself. A Room with a View (+27 11 482 5435) is highly rated for its comfort levels and friendly staff. It has just 14 rooms, some with conservatories, most with balconies. Doubles from €83, including breakfast.

RANKINJOZI is Rankin's new book and exhibition of his journey through South Africa. The book is distributed by Turnaround (£20). The exhibition will run until 6 June at Annroy Gallery in Kentish Town, London ( © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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