Jabulani Dhlamini explores the results of his engagement, since 2008, with the residents of Sharpeville, reflecting on the massacre that took place there on March 21, 1960 as a turning point in South African history. On that day, without warning, South African police shot into a crowd of about 5,000 unarmed anti-pass protesters at Sharpeville, an African township of Vereeniging, south of Johannesburg. The massacre took the lives of at least 69 people – many of them shot in the back – and wounding more than 200 people. Dhlamini’s Summoning Sharpeville series is created with an aim to reflect the individuality of eyewitnesses, and the survivors of the Sharpeville massacre, as they engage with the memories evoked by space and objects. It also affords them an opportunity to narrate their own story and experience.
Summoning Sharpeville recaptures this dark day in a way that to date has been somewhat overlooked – through the intimacy of personal encounter and the objects that are emblematic of this. Although there is a memorial site, there is yet to be a museum dedicated to the memory of those who were shot dead, or survived, traumatised by the experience of being violently attacked for demanding basic human rights. The documentaries that have focused on the subject of the Sharpeville massacre often sideline personal engagement, in favour of cold historical record. In an attempt to process the massacre for himself, Dhlamini has not only photographed places and objects of trauma – for example the back of the shop where people hid during the attacks or a pillow case concealing incriminating documents that formed part of the struggle against the apartheid state – but he has also set up a makeshift studio in Sharpeville, where he has invited people to bring objects they associate with the day of the massacre. He photographs these objects, as long as the people who they belong to can contextualize them with the story about their connection to the massacre.
In Umama, Dhlamini pays homage to single mothers and explores the challenges faced by women raising children on their own in South African townships.
Goodman Gallery Cape Town
10 March – 6 April 2016
In Recapture, Jabulani Dhlamini utilises the medium of photography to explore and question how South Africa’s traumatic and violent past permeates the consciousness of its people. The series, the first since the artist’s breakout exhibition uMama in 2012, documents the town of Sharpeville, ruminating on the process of recovery and memorial in post-apartheid South Africa. Born in 1983, the artist considers himself to be bound not only by his past but by a history of violence. The artist recalls the moments leading up to South Africa’s first democratic elections – “I knew that something important was happening, makeshift posters and pictures of Mandela were posted all over the streets, but at the time I didn’t realise that the man in the pictures was the soon-to-be leader of a new South Africa – I didn’t realise the implications of what this was.”
Growing up during the height of the anti-apartheid struggle, Biko, Hani and Subokwe were names the artist heard constantly. Not realising the context of these overheard conversations, the young Dhlamini believed these to be distant relatives. Although he later realised the true nature of what he had heard, the idea that the leaders of the struggle were part of a close family bond rather than celebrated heroes and part of the collective consciousness of his community never really left him. Speaking about these early memories Dhlamini states “I think a lot of us feel this way, even with what we know now, we can’t help feeling that the history is much closer to us. I think that’s why children often appear in my work – I am interested in what past they will inherit.”
The decision to photograph the town and its people came from the artist’s need to engage physically with a place that looms so large in the country’s past. “I needed to visit the actual location, to place myself in that landscape. I needed to see, and not imagine, the wall they hid behind, the street where the first shots were fired.” It is these locations, produced as tableaux, that form the first part of the exhibition.
In the three years it took to produce the Sharpeville series, Dhlamini conducted interviews with members of the community. It was during these interviews that he realised how victims constructed informal memorials to the massacre. Tea cups held at the time the first shot was heard, boots which were worn at the massacre, and clothing belonging to the deceased are kept in the houses of victims as personal objects of remembrance. Again we encounter the role of individual processes of mourning and understanding which so fascinates the artist.
In Objects, photographs of personal items which signify the massacre to their owners are placed in a grid next to texts which outline their context. Deliberately blurring the narrative, the writing slips between the subject and interlocutor so that rather than provide a concrete context the texts serve to heighten the ambiguity of history.
For Dhlamini the feeling of uncertainty which the works evoke creates a juxtaposition between lived experience and inherited memory.
Goodman Gallery Cape Town is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Jabulani Dhlamini. In 2011 Dhlamini was awarded the annual Edward Ruiz mentorship, which helps promising young photographers develop a substantial body of work under the mentorship of a professional photographer. Under the guidance of Jodi Bieber, Dhlamini’s project culminated in the exhibition of uMama at the Market Photo Workshop Gallery, now seen in Cape Town for the first time.
In uMama, Dhlamini pays tribute to mothers, and explores the particular challenges faced by women raising children on their own in South African townships. In intimate portraits of these single mothers and their homes, Dhlamini raises a range of questions about the roles women are expected to play, and how the act mothering is framed and perceived in contemporary South African society. And in portraits of young men raised by single mothers, the artist self-reflexively considers what it means to become a man in a house without a father.
Jabulani Dhlamini was born in Warden, Free State in 1983. He received a National Diploma in Photography from the Vaal University of Technology in 2009. He is the recipient of numerous awards in photography, including 2 Profoto Awards in 2008 and 2009, a Fujifilm Southern Africa Photographic Award in 2009 and the Edward Ruiz Mentorship for 2011-2012. He held his first solo exhibition in 2012 at the Market Photo Workshop Gallery. He lives and works in Johannesburg.
Goodman Gallery Johannesburg
4 June – 6 August 2016
In 2016, Goodman Gallery celebrates its 50th anniversary – five decades of forging change through artistic production and dialogue, shaping contemporary art within and beyond the continent. From early June, we will host major exhibitions between our Johannesburg and Cape Town galleries featuring significant work, installations, interventions, performances, a video and talks programmes.
Titled New Revolutions, our programme will include prominent international and African artists – each part of the Goodman Gallery’s history, present and future – engaging with the idea of perpetual change, alternative independent movements and the reinvigorating of ideology based upon mutable historical realities. The project as a whole will consider Goodman Gallery’s history as an inclusive space, as well as its approach to showing contemporary art that shifts perspectives and engenders social transformation.
New Revolutions recalls the fulcrum of activity into which the gallery was borne 50 years ago: revolutionary fervour, the gradual decolonisation of African countries and radical responses to the status quo. Locally, the gallery maintained a responsibility to show work by South African artists as museums served the agenda of the discriminatory government. By transcending its role as a commercial space Goodman Gallery rose to prominence as a progressive institution. And, while South Africa was deep in the throes of a draconian era, figures within the fight for African independence trail-blazed the struggle against apartheid. This exhibition reflects on how the events in Africa then, still play a part in the conceptual thinking of artists now. And, beyond that, how artists have responded to new forms of economic colonisation, migrancy, as well as radicalised reactions to economic inequality and lingering institutional racism.
By considering how the roles of artists cross into the realm of activism and socially transformative endeavours, New Revolutions explores historical and contemporary tensions and movements that are unfolding in Africa and around the world, through the panorama of contemporary art.
The 2016 anniversary programme highlights Goodman Gallery’s ongoing affiliation with artists who explore the power of dissent and the importance of alternative factions and cross-disciplinary collaborations in order to engender change and encourage dialogue. A non-chronological, intergenerational but conceptually linked collection of artworks from the 1960s to the present will focus on the spirit of protest, resistance, and revolution, and the way in which South Africa, and Goodman Gallery in particular, has offered an important platform from which to explore such approaches.
On the occasion of its 50th anniversary Goodman Gallery takes pleasure in announcing new partnerships with some of the world’s most significant artists – Sonia Gomes (Brazil), Kiluanji Kia Henda (Angola), Shirin Neshat (Iran) – revealing new directions in the gallery’s programme. Locally, we announce the representation by Goodman Gallery of Tabita Rezaire and The Brother Moves On. In addition, the exhibition will include work by international artists Kapwani Kiwanga (US) and Jacolby Satterwhite (US).
New Revolutions will provide an opportunity to exhibit those who have worked with the gallery for decades including William Kentridge, David Koloane, Sam Nhlengethwa, David Goldblatt and Tracey Rose, and some of the most influential younger voices in contemporary art including Kudzanai Chiurai, Hasan and Husain Essop, Mikhael Subotzky, Gerald Machona and Haroon Gunn-Salie. The show will also include artists who have been integral in the gallery’s transformation over the past decade, including Ghada Amer, Candice Breitz, Alfredo Jaar, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, and Hank Willis Thomas. Performances will be presented by local innovators, Nelisiwe Xaba and The Brother Moves On.
Beyond this, the iconic significance of the gallery, and the historical moment necessitates that certain artists whose ideas and actions impacted on society, and on the course of art history, be included. Artists like Walter Wahl Battis, Cecil Skotnes, Ezrom Legae, Leonard Matsotso and Sydney Khumalo are exhibited as part of our endeavour to show how the regeneration of ideas – and the gallery as a repository of change – is not confined to epochs.
With New Revolutions we invite you to celebrate with Goodman Gallery as we pay homage to artists who have shaped the landscape of contemporary art in Southern Africa. These include artists based on the continent, those of the Diaspora, our northern counterparts who have been distanced from sub-Saharan Africa and those from outside of Africa whose work explores territory such as unequal power structures and socio-political constructs.
New Revolutions is curated by Liza Essers and will take place throughout the month of June at our Johannesburg and Cape Town galleries, and with a special selection of works for Art Basel from 16 June to 19 June.
Jabulani Dhlamini was born in Warden, Free State in 1983; he lives and works in Johannesburg. Dhlamini majored in documentary photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg and he was the recipient of the Edward Ruiz Mentorship 2011/12. Dhlamini’s work focuses on his upbringing, as well as the way he views contemporary South Africa.
His Umama series was exhibited as part of his Edward Ruiz award at the Market Photo Workshop in 2012, and at Goodman Gallery Cape Town in 2013 – his first solo exhibition with the gallery. In Umama, Dhlamini pays homage to single mothers and explores the challenges faced by women raising children on their own in South African townships.
2016 Recaptured, Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
2013 uMama, Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
2012 uMama, Market Photo Workshop Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
2016 New Revolutions: Goodman Gallery at 50 , Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
2010 Bonani Africa Photographic Festival, Cape Town, South Africa
2008 Cape Town Months of Photography Festival, Cape Town, South Africa
2011 Edward Ruiz Mentorship
2011 Ernest Cole Award, Honorable Mention
2010 Bonani Africa, Honorable Mention
2010 Photo Imaging Education Association, Honorable Mention
2009 Fujifilm Southern Africa Photographic Awards
2007 – 2011 Vaal University of Technology, Vereeniging, South Africa
Press for Jabulani Dhlamini