The Treason Trial 1956-61 (photo), The Sharpville Massacre 1960, the Soweto Uprising 1976… it is all in its immense brutality very well documented in ICP (International Center of Photography) in New York – runs until January 6 2013 – there are photos from the lives of the white oppressors and the black oppressed in Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life, the title of the exhibition that “includes nearly 500 photographs, films, books, magazines, newspapers, and assorted archival documents and covers more than 60 years of powerful photographic and visual production that forms part of the historical record of South Africa.”
Nelson Mandela in a short interview with BBC in 1960, the last one before he was imprisoned for 27 years (1963-1990), we all know about it and have seen it before and yet it brings tears to the eyes to watch him walking hand in hand with Winnie after the release. There are many film and tv clips in this amazing exhibition, where – of course – the classic “Come Back Africa” by Lionel Rogosin (1959) is also to be seen, with wonderful Miriam Makeba. Martin Scorcese once said that it is “a film of terrible beauty”.
However, what the exhibition first of all does is what is stated on the site: (it..) proposes a complex understanding of photography and the aesthetic power of the documentary form and honors the exceptional achievement of South African photographers.