Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life

EXHIBITION 15.02 – 26.05.13

"Rise and Fall of Apartheid" offers a comprehensive historical overview of the pictorial response to apartheid, which has never been undertaken before. Through its images, it explores the significance of the civil rights struggle, from how apartheid defined South Africa’s identity from 1948 to 1994, to the rise of Nelson Mandela, and finally its lasting impact. It examines the aesthetic power of the documentary form – from the photo essay to reportage, social documentary to photojournalism and art – in recording, analyzing, articulating, and confronting apartheid’s legacy and effects on everyday life in South Africa.  

Apartheid, the compound Dutch word meaning separate, was designed to promote racial segregation and white domination. In 1948, after the Afrikaner National Party’s surprise victory, apartheid was introduced as state policy. The reorganization of civic, economic, and political structures became increasingly violent and penetrated even the most mundane aspects of social existence. The exhibition argues that the rise of the Afrikaner National Party and its introduction of apartheid changed the pictorial perception of the country from a colonial space based on segregation to a highly contested space based on the ideals of equality, democracy, and civil rights. Photography was almost instantaneously alert to this change and transformed its visual language to a social instrument. No one photographed South Africa and the struggle against apartheid better, more critically and incisively, with deep pictorial complexity and penetrating insight, than South African photographers. This exhibition explores and pays tribute to their exceptional photographic achievement. Historic events like the "Treason Trial" of 1956-61 and Nelson Mandela’s 1990 release also appear. The exhibition’s focus, however, is not on the history of apartheid, but rather explores its normative symbols and signs. 

Vivid, evocative, and dramatic, "Rise and Fall of Apartheid" features nearly 70 artists and covers more than 60 years of photographic and visual production that form part of the historical record of modern South African identity. With more than 500 photographs, artworks, films, videos, documents, posters, and periodicals, the exhibition is a rich tapestry of materials. Included in the exhibition are works of pioneering South African photographers such as Eli Weinberg, David Goldblatt, Peter Magubane, Jurgen Schadeberg, Sam Nzima, Ernest Cole, and the responses of contemporary artists including Adrian Piper, Hans Haacke, or William Kentridge. The exhibition also features the works of a new generation of South African photographers. 

"Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life" is organized by the International Center of Photography, New York in collaboration with Haus der Kunst.

Art information
Staff members answer your questions about the exhibition:
Sa 12 — 5 pm / Su 12 — 5 pm

Eli Weinberg, Crowd near the Drill Hall on the opening day of the Treason Trial, Johannesburg, December 19, 1956, photo: Eli Weinberg, Times Media Collection, Museum Africa, Johannesburg
Eli Weinberg, Crowd near the Drill Hall on the opening day of the Treason Trial, Johannesburg, December 19, 1956, photo: Eli Weinberg, Times Media Collection, Museum Africa, Johannesburg
Rise and Fall of Apartheid, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2013, photo Wilfried Petzi
Rise and Fall of Apartheid, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2013, photo Wilfried Petzi
Rise and Fall of Apartheid, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2013, photo Wilfried Petzi
Rise and Fall of Apartheid, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2013, photo Wilfried Petzi
Rise and Fall of Apartheid, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2013, photo Wilfried Petzi
Rise and Fall of Apartheid, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2013, photo Wilfried Petzi
Rise and Fall of Apartheid, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2013, photo Wilfried Petzi
Rise and Fall of Apartheid, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2013, photo Wilfried Petzi
Rise and Fall of Apartheid, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2013, photo Wilfried Petzi
Rise and Fall of Apartheid, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2013, photo Wilfried Petzi
Rise and Fall of Apartheid, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2013, photo Wilfried Petzi
Rise and Fall of Apartheid, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2013, photo Wilfried Petzi
Rise and Fall of Apartheid, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2013, photo Wilfried Petzi
Rise and Fall of Apartheid, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2013, photo Wilfried Petzi
Rise and Fall of Apartheid, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2013, photo Wilfried Petzi
Rise and Fall of Apartheid, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2013, photo Wilfried Petzi
Rise and Fall of Apartheid, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2013, photo Wilfried Petzi
Rise and Fall of Apartheid, installation view, Haus der Kunst, 2013, photo Wilfried Petzi
Greame Williams, Portrait of Nelson Mandela painted on the grass of Soweto's largest football stadium during an election rally, 1994, courtesy the artist © Greame Williams
Greame Williams, Portrait of Nelson Mandela painted on the grass of Soweto's largest football stadium during an election rally, 1994, courtesy the artist © Greame Williams

Stretch your view


Stretch your view

Picture Gallery


Exhibition catalogue

Rise and Fall of Apartheid

Publication on the exhibition "Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life" MORE


Essay

Okwui Enwezor: Rise and Fall of Apartheid

The essay offers a comprehensive overview of the pictorial response to apartheid in South Africa. MORE


Interview

Sir Sidney Kentridge

An interview with the renowned antiapartheid activist lawyer Sir Sydney Kentridge. He played a leading role in a number of the most significant political trials in apartheid era, including the 1977 inquest of Stephen Biko following his death in custody, was a member of Nelson Mandela's legal team during his 27-year imprisonment, and helped erode the legacy of apartheid laws in South Africa. MORE


Video

William Kentridge: Tide table

"Tide Table" is one of ten films by South African artist William Kentridge that "Rise and Fall of Apartheid" shows in its own cinema. MORE


FAZ Article on "Rise and Fall of Apartheid"

Review of the exhibition "Rise and Fall of Apartheid" in the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" on March 5, 2013. (In German) MORE


Interview

Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Interview with Peter Magubane

Interview with Peter Magubane, one of South Africa’s most distinguished photo journalists. MORE


In the press

Rise and Fall of Apartheid - Article in the NY Times

"Photography is the common language of modern history. It's everywhere; and everyone, in some way, understands it." (The New York Times) MORE


Bibliography

Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Bibliography

Extensive bibliography on the subject of apartheid with a focus on photography, fiction and autobiography as well as academic publications. MORE


Poster

Rise and Fall of Apartheid

MORE


Poster

Rise and Fall of Apartheid

MORE


Document

"Soweto Uprising" – Readymade and photographs

Kendell Geers' readymade "Untitled, 1976" is a mortuary register listing the name of a young boy who was killed during the Soweto Uprising – an event captured also in numerous photographs in the exhibition "Rise and Fall of Apartheid". MORE


Worksheets

Worksheets for "Rise and Fall of Apartheid"

The material encourages students to focus on different topics while viewing the exhibition and to stimulate their further discussion. MORE


Video

Exhibition program on video

A video containing brief visual descriptions of current exhibitions. MORE


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The Conditions of Spectrality and Spectatorship in Thomas Ruff's Photographs

Essay by Okwui Enwezor MORE


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