‘Damage’ is an exhibition of water damaged negatives from the 1980s, that were taken by struggle photographer Gideon Mendel.
The struggle to free South Africa from apartheid was one of the most remarkable challenges of the last century, and photographers played a crucial role in this struggle. By shifting their focus to provide visual resistance in the form of valuable documentation of everyday life, image-makers in South Africa had a significant impact on the course of the conflict.
Mendel was active in the 1980s, taking photographs of the struggle when it was at its height. His work has been internationally recognised.
Recently, a box of negatives from that period that he had left in storage was returned to him. He discovered that the box had been damaged by rain, with the top layers affected by moisture and mould. It is these damaged photographs that are on exhibition.
“The markings that now overlay my original photographs are random impacts of time and water yet this process of decay produced something unexpectedly powerful. The energy of these captured moments seems magnified by the inadvertent damage, echoing the process of the fading of communal memory” says Mendel. “I feel that the negatives are now striking physical objects, their distortion speaking to a deeper truth beyond their original documentary format. I am presenting them here as testaments to idealism and struggle, reconsidered and reframed in all their historical materiality.”
Venue: Apartheid Museum, Northern Park Way and Gold Reef Rd, Ormonde, Johannesburg
Time: Mon to Sun: 9am to 5pm
Cost: Adults R95 entrance | Pensioners, students, children R80 entrance | Discounts for school groups