Figures & Fictions

12.04.2011 - 17.07.2011


V&A South Kensington
Cromwell Road
London SW7 2RL
+44 (0)20 7942 2000


Jodi Bieber
Kudzanai Chiurai
Husain and Hasan Essop
David Goldblatt
Pieter Hugo
Terry Kurgan
Sabelo Mlangeni
Zanele Muholi
Santu Mofokeng
Zwelethu Mthethwa
Guy Tillim
Berni Searle
Mikhael Subotzky
Jo Ractliffe
Nontsikelelo Veleko
Graeme Williams


Figures & Fictions

"Figures & Fictions - Contemporary South African Photography" presents the vibrant and sophisticated photographic culture that has emerged in post-apartheid South Africa. It features works by some of the most exciting and inventive photographers living and working in South Africa today. The photographs on display respond to the country's powerful rethinking of issues of identity across race, gender, class and politics.

The exhibition features 17 photographers who question what it is to be human at this time in South Africa with politically-engaged images arising from a challenging period in the country's history. The photographs depict people within their individual, family and community lives, practicing religious customs, observing social rituals, wearing street fashion or existing on the fringes of society.

The excitement and urgency surrounding photography in South Africa today is partly explained by its local context: embedded in colonial history, ethnography, anthropology, journalism and political activism, the best photography emerging from the country has absorbed and grapples with its weighty history, questioning, manipulating and revivifying its visual codes and blending them with contemporary concerns. Post-Apartheid, complex and fundamental issues - race, society, gender, identity - remain very much on the surface. This is reflected by image makers who harness the resulting scenes as a form of creative tension within their personal vision. Here, distinctive photographic voices have emerged: local in character and subject matter, but of wider international interest because of their combined intensity.

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