Jodi Bieber / Between Darkness and Light / 2011

About

In an exhibition at Goodman Gallery Cape titled Between Darkness and Light, award-winning photographer Jodi Bieber explores the twilight that she experienced in the decade following the advent of democracy in South Africa. Curated by Liza Essers and Storm Janse Van Rensburg, the show is a selection of work from 1993 to 2004, primarily revealing Bieber’s more rarely shown independent series, as well as some of her earlier work as a press photographer. In each case her idiosyncratic style traverses and ultimately defies categorisations such as photojournalism and visual art.

“For me,” explains Bieber, “photography was a vehicle to discover my country.” She began her career as a media planner, but a pamphlet advertising a course at the Market Photo Workshop (MPW) drove her on a very different trajectory. After studying at MPW she built up a portfolio, showed it to Ken Oosterbroek, and began working for The Star and other newspapers and magazines, both local and international. Yet increasingly Bieber’s creative autonomy asserted itself, and she would ultimately become consumed by her own projects and interests.

“From the very beginning I was working on my own projects and doing my newspaper and magazine assignment work as well,” she says. “Both were equally important to me – imagine covering the first democratic elections! But while you’re covering it, you’re still a person and there was a lot of death happening around me… even though it was a jubilant time.” Fellow photographers in Bieber’s circle at the time were killed on the job, such as Oosterbroek, and some, including Kevin Carter and Gary Barnard, committed suicide. “So I was in quite a dark space, but the country was moving into lightness.”

Between Darkness and Light reveals this strained shift. Essers and Van Rensburg have selected pictures from the series Between Dogs and Wolves: Growing up with South Africa, which was published by Double Story in 2006. Also included are several photographs that were taken during the same period as Between Dogs and Wolves, but left out of the publication. “It’s really about the twilight of the ten years that followed [the end of apartheid],” says Bieber. “It’s between darkness and light, where you don’t know if a dog is a wolf or if a wolf is a dog.” In one of her photographs street children sleep in a storm-water drain. A man who told her he was a social worker led her to these children. This man, who was harassed by the children and had his wallet stolen by them, impressed Jodi with his calm and forgiving demeanour. “I wish I could be as kind as you,” she told him when she dropped him off at his home. Three days later, when he appeared on the front page of the newspaper, Bieber realised that this man was Moses Sitole, one of the most notorious serial killers and rapists in South Africa. For Bieber, this incident was symptomatic of a period of profound uncertainty.

Between Darkness and Light presents images from her newspaper and magazine work that have meant a great deal to the photographer. “There are two photographs that I can see have changed people’s lives directly,” Bieber says. One, not on show, is the iconic and disturbing portrait of Aisha, a young mutilated Afghan woman, which recently won her the prestigious World Press Photo of the Year Award. The other, which is included, is of a neglected disabled woman living in her own detritus in Alexandra Township. After the photograph appeared in The Star, readers were moved to change her living conditions and subsequently her life, donating a wheelchair, cleaning out her room and helping her rebuild her home.

Yet the majority of the works on the show reveal Bieber’s captivation with her extensive personal photographic projects. The exhibition presents selected images from her first independent project in 1995, when she spent six months with the crime prevention unit in Hillbrow. In Going Home – Illegality and Repatriation – South Africa/Mozambique, Bieber documents lives in endless transition, with little indication that the displaced subjects will ever find permanence or home. This series was realised in 2001, before, she asserts, people in South Africa really understood what xenophobia was. Another early personal project included in the show is a series of photographs taken in isolated communities in the Northern Cape. Bieber spent time in areas such as Eksteenfontien, to which coloured people were forced to relocate during apartheid, and where white husbands and wives reclassified themselves as “coloured” so that they could remain with their families.

While the years between 1993 to 2004 were all about production and immersing herself in an exploration of her own country, Bieber has more recently had time to reflect on the powerful works that came out of that period. Between Darkness and Light is a manifestation of this reflection.

  • One two three and... The Ennerdale Academy of Dance, Ennerdale, south of Johannesburg

    One two three and... The Ennerdale Academy of Dance, Ennerdale, south of Johannesburg, 1997

    Pigment inks on fibre-based paper

    54 x 82cm

  • Annamarie van Niekerk, sentenced 20 years for murder (diptych)

    Annamarie van Niekerk, sentenced 20 years for murder (diptych), 2005

    Pigment inks on fibre-based paper

    100 x 100 cm each

  • Marie Dlamini, sentenced 15 years for murder (diptych)

    Marie Dlamini, sentenced 15 years for murder (diptych), 2005

    Pigment inks on fibre-based paper

    100 x 100cm each

  • Ian, HIV-positive, feels the health system has ignored him

    Ian, HIV-positive, feels the health system has ignored him, 1995

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    62 x 42cm

  • Meshak knows he is HIV-positive

    Meshak knows he is HIV-positive, 1995

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    62 x 42cm

  • Child prostitute, inner city, Johannesburg

    Child prostitute, inner city, Johannesburg, 1997

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

  • Hero, Newtown waste dump, Johannesburg

    Hero, Newtown waste dump, Johannesburg, 1996

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

  • Forgotten: Normsa Louw, Alexandra Township, Johannesburg

    Forgotten: Normsa Louw, Alexandra Township, Johannesburg, 1994/1995

    Pigment inks on fibre-based paper

    58 x 81.5cm

  • Northern Cape (III)

    Northern Cape (III), 1998

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

  • Northern Cape (II)

    Northern Cape (II), 1998

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

  • Pella, Northern Cape

    Pella, Northern Cape, 1999

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

  • Madam and her maid, Nababeep, Northern Cape

    Madam and her maid, Nababeep, Northern Cape, 1999

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    48 x 71.5cm

  • The local carpenter, The Bosluis Basters, Eksteenfontein

    The local carpenter, The Bosluis Basters, Eksteenfontein, 1998

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    71.5 x 48cm

  • Julian and Julius, The Bosluis Basters, Eksteenfontein

    Julian and Julius, The Bosluis Basters, Eksteenfontein, 1998

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    71.5 x 48cm

  • Ouma Johanna Strauss and her son and a photograph of her late husband. Mr Strauss was white and reclassified himself as 'Coloured' to remain with his family when they moved to Eksteenfontein. It was proclaimed a Coloured-only area. The Bosluis Basters, Eksteenfontein

    Ouma Johanna Strauss and her son and a photograph of her late husband. Mr Strauss was white and reclassified himself as 'Coloured' to remain with his family when th...

  • Mrs Strauss and her grandson Angus, the Bosluis Basters, Eksteenfontein

    Mrs Strauss and her grandson Angus, the Bosluis Basters, Eksteenfontein, 1998

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    62 x 42cm

  • Northern Cape

    Northern Cape, 1998

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    48 x 71.5cm

  • Black Label, Operation Crackdown, Hillbrow, Johannesburg

    Black Label, Operation Crackdown, Hillbrow, Johannesburg, 2000

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

  • Police van, Operation Crackdown, Hillbrow, Johannesburg

    Police van, Operation Crackdown, Hillbrow, Johannesburg, 2000

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

  • Lindela Deportation Centre

    Lindela Deportation Centre, 2000

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

  • Lindela Deportation Centre (II)

    Lindela Deportation Centre (II), 2000

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

  • Waiting in line before deportation, Lindela Deportation Centre

    Waiting in line before deportation, Lindela Deportation Centre, 2000

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

  • Heading to the train before deportation

    Heading to the train before deportation, 2000

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

    Edition of 12

  • Shafop: Lindela Deportation Centre - to prevent them from escaping, illegal immigrants are told to bury their heads between their knees

    Shafop: Lindela Deportation Centre - to prevent them from escaping, illegal immigrants are told to bury their heads between their knees, 2000

    Silver gel...

  • The train carrying illegal immigrants back to Mozambique

    The train carrying illegal immigrants back to Mozambique, 2000

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

  • Shafkop: on the train to Mozambique illegal immigrants are told to place their heads between their knees at each station to prevent them from escaping

    Shafkop: on the train to Mozambique illegal immigrants are told to place their heads between their knees at each station to prevent them from escaping, 2000

  • Going home, Xia Xia, Mozambique

    Going home, Xia Xia, Mozambique, 2000

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

  • Home during the floods, Mozambique

    Home during the floods, Mozambique, 2000

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

  • David, Vredapark

    David, Vredapark, 1995

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

  • Street children, Moses Sitoli and I, Park Station, Johannesburg

    Street children, Moses Sitoli and I, Park Station, Johannesburg, 1994

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

  • There is not a kid around six who can't tell you about a gun. My kid is 5; I take my gun home, remove the magazine and give it to him to play with. He must get used to it. He is the only other man in the house; he will be the next breadwinner. It is not to say that I want him to be a gangster, but he must be gun-wise because guns can be dangerous, even in your own house. - Fast Gun member

    There is not a kid around six who can't tell you about a gun. My kid is 5; I take my gun home, remove the magazine and give it to him to play with. He must get used...

  • Bradley and Lynette

    Bradley and Lynette, 1996

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

  • Courtney Curtis, Caravan Park, East Rand, Johannesburg

    Courtney Curtis, Caravan Park, East Rand, Johannesburg, 1996

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

  • Overcrowding and broken family life contribute to children moving onto the streets at an early age. Brotherhoods or gangs develop as a means of survival on the streets; they are an extension of the family

    Overcrowding and broken family life contribute to children moving onto the streets at an early age. Brotherhoods or gangs develop as a means of survival on the stre...

  • Prostitute beaten by a client, Hillbrow Police Station, 1995

    Prostitute beaten by a client, Hillbrow Police Station, 1995, 1995

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

  • Two men apprehended by a policeman. They were caught assaulting a street child

    Two men apprehended by a policeman. They were caught assaulting a street child, 1995

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

  • The community alleges theft of a jersey by the man in the foreground. He is beaten by them and the police try to restore calm

    The community alleges theft of a jersey by the man in the foreground. He is beaten by them and the police try to restore calm, 1995

    Silver gelatin on fi...

  • Searching for drugs, Hillbrow

    Searching for drugs, Hillbrow, 1995

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

  • Farmer John Franzen prepares for evening patrol, Schweizer Reineke, North-West Province

    Farmer John Franzen prepares for evening patrol, Schweizer Reineke, North-West Province, 1998

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

    <...
  • Three men charged with murdering a farmer, Schweizer Reineke courthouse, North-West Province

    Three men charged with murdering a farmer, Schweizer Reineke courthouse, North-West Province, 1998

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm<...

  • Pub for farmers. There's an unwritten rule: no blacks allowed. Schweizer Reineke, North-West Province

    Pub for farmers. There's an unwritten rule: no blacks allowed. Schweizer Reineke, North-West Province, 1998

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    4...

  • Mrs Bruwer, a victim of an attack, with her dogs, cat and firearm, Schweizer Reineke, North-West Province

    Mrs Bruwer, a victim of an attack, with her dogs, cat and firearm, Schweizer Reineke, North-West Province, 1998

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    ...
  • Farm worker at home on the farm. Most farm workers are born on the farm where they work, Schweizer Reineke, North-West Province

    Farm worker at home on the farm. Most farm workers are born on the farm where they work, Schweizer Reineke, North-West Province, 1998

    Silver gelatin on ...

  • Farm worker walks up and down the lines of maize looking for loose cobs, Schweizer Reineke, North-West Province

    Farm worker walks up and down the lines of maize looking for loose cobs, Schweizer Reineke, North-West Province, 1998

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based pape...

  • Generations of farm workers have been born and bred on the farms, Schweizer Reineke, North-West Province

    Generations of farm workers have been born and bred on the farms, Schweizer Reineke, North-West Province, 1998

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    <...
  • Thousands of Afrikaners flocked to the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, many in oxwagons and traditional dress, to commemorate the Day of the Vow (II)

    Thousands of Afrikaners flocked to the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, many in oxwagons and traditional dress, to commemorate the Day of the Vow (II), 1993

  • Protest against Chris Hani's assassination outside the Johannesburg Central Police Station

    Protest against Chris Hani's assassination outside the Johannesburg Central Police Station, 1993

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

  • Thousands of Afrikaners flocked to the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, many in oxwagons and traditional dress, to commemorate the Day of the Vow

    Thousands of Afrikaners flocked to the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, many in oxwagons and traditional dress, to commemorate the Day of the Vow, 1993

  • Crowds attending Nelson Mandela's address at an ANC rally, Ivory Park

    Crowds attending Nelson Mandela's address at an ANC rally, Ivory Park, 1996

    Silver gelatin on fibre-based paper

    42 x 62cm

  • Installation picture [Jodi Bieber / Between Darkness and Light / 2011]
  • Installation picture [Jodi Bieber / Between Darkness and Light / 2011]
  • Installation picture [Jodi Bieber / Between Darkness and Light / 2011]
  • Installation picture [Jodi Bieber / Between Darkness and Light / 2011]
  • Installation picture [Jodi Bieber / Between Darkness and Light / 2011]
  • Installation picture [Jodi Bieber / Between Darkness and Light / 2011]
  • Installation picture [Jodi Bieber / Between Darkness and Light / 2011]
  • Installation picture [Jodi Bieber / Between Darkness and Light / 2011]