Durban street photographers exhibition captures extraordinary moments in ordinary lives
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Durban - Fleeting moments of ordinary lives in KwaZulu-Natal caught on camera three decades apart.
That’s the work by Durban street photographer Samora Chapman and anti-apartheid activist and photographer Cedric Nunn featured in the exhibition Revelations. The exhibition is set to open at the Durban Art Gallery on Thursday, September 23 and will run until November 10.
Speaking to the Independent on Saturday this week, Chapman, who documented the lives of homeless people in Durban under the Covid hard lockdown in his series Street Dreamers, said the concept behind the exhibition was to bring two works together: Nunn’s from the 1980s and Chapman’s more contemporary work.
“Looking at the images side by side reveals that which is often unseen or overlooked. The purpose of the exhibition is to open people’s eyes and reveal that part of our society which people don’t see. It’s a homage to ordinary life and the working class.
“The true value in a social documentary is observing life as it is and preserving it for posterity.
“I’m a street photographer and I’m moved by people who disrupt a public space; it is a look at ordinary life but with the focus on the extraordinary. It’s something that catches my eye,” said Chapman.
Whether the subject of his image is a busker or someone dressed outrageously, it is on the street and part of everyday life in Durban which is the attraction for Chapman.
“I’m inspired by going out into the public realm and not knowing what I’m going to see. I like the process of going out alone and exploring the city and to show people what Durban has,” he said.
Chapman photographs across different mediums from his phone camera to 35mm old school film and said it was “humbling” to be exhibiting alongside the legendary Cedric Nunn.
For both documentary photographers, their work is aimed towards active social change. Their choice of subject falls out of the focus of mainstream media and public interest and looks at people whose lives are out of the public gaze.
Chapman’s next work will be to document the homeless registering to vote, which forms part of the Denis Hurley Centre’s campaign for the implementation of the National Homeless Manifesto, where independent candidates and political parties will be challenged to consider the needs of the homeless.
Cedric Nunn was born in Nongoma in northern KZN and was a member of the collective agency Afrapix during the apartheid era when his collection The Hidden Years was to reveal a process towards liberation, with many of his images taken deep in the rural heartland of the province.
As an exhibition and community engagement project, Revelations was initiated by the Alliance Française and is curated by Dr Ingrid Bamberg from the Centre for Visual Methodologies for Social Change at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. It is supported by by eThekwini Municipality’s Heritage Department through Durban Art Gallery and Local History Museums; the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS); the Negpos collective in Nîmes (France), the Centre for Visual Methodologies for Social Change, UKZN, and others.
The project is also scheduled to travel to Luanda, Angola and through South Africa with the support of the Alliance Française network, and finally to France, where it will be hosted by the collective gallery Negpos in Nîmes.
For more information, contact Alliance Française de Durban at [email protected] or 031 312 9582.
The Durban Art Gallery is on the 2nd floor of the Durban City Hall on the Anton Lembede (Smith) Street entrance opposite The Playhouse. The Gallery hours are Monday-Friday 8.30am to 3pm. The gallery is no longer open on weekends.
The Independent on Saturday