Pupils unite through portraits

By Time of article published Jul 15, 2011

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Regina Graham

LAUNCHING Mandela Day celebrations, pupils from two separate communities were brought together by an NGO to promote social awareness and intercultural understanding through the use of photography.

“The idea is for them to bridge cultural misunderstandings, appreciate each other’s differences and to really see how many similarities they have between them,” Andrea Kerzner, CEO of The Lalela Project, said.

Thirty pupils from the Imizamo Yethu and Hangberg communities were paired through The Lalela Project, a non-profit organisation which empowers local youth through the arts.

The pupils, who attend Hout Bay High School, have been working with well-known South African photographers and brothers Hasan and Husein Essop for the past two months.

The twin brothers have been teaching them the basics of portrait photography as a tool to bridge the cultural divide between the two communities.

“In these schools, there is still a stigma attached because the students have that old mentality that has been passed down through their social up-bringing and it’s not their fault,” Hasan Essop said.

Each pair of pupils took their partner’s portrait photograph, and world famous mural artist, JR, did large-scale prints of the portraits from 1 x 2 metres to 10 x 15m.

The pupils began pasting their portrait posters on each other’s homes within the two communities yesterday.

“I am so excited about the posters because a black person’s picture is right next to a coloured person’s picture so it is like we are bringing the two communities together,” Amanda Gaetywa, a pupil from Imizamo Yethu said.

“Working with the Lalela Project has really helped this area because at first we didn’t speak to the coloured people because we have been really separated from apartheid, and now we have a stepping stone to communicate with them,” Zimasa Dyani, another pupil from Imizamo Yethu said.

The City of Cape Town partnered with the Lalela Project to facilitate an art installation in the city centre of the pupils’ portraits to celebrate Mandela Day on Monday. The prints will be exhibited on the roofs of the kiosks on the Grand Parade, the Central Library, the Prestwich Memorial brick walls facing the Fan Walk and 44-52 Wale Street between Loop Street and the garage down-ramp on Long Street.

It has been proposed that this installation be left on display for a minimum of two weeks and a maximum of three months.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation has given its support and approval for the project, which will culminate on Monday, which is Mandela’s 93rd birthday.

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