Call and Response Book Launch

I have just recently come across this transcription from the launch of Call and Response at the Book Lounge in Cape Town in 2012, so some time ago, but a detailed and important conversation between my interlocutor UWC Historian Patricia Hayes and myself.

Again, I post this for the sake of documentation, and to make such conversations readily available to researchers and the like. Enjoy!

Book launch of Cedric Nunn, Call and Response

Conversation between Cedric Nunn and Patricia Hayes, introduced by Bronwyn Law-Viljoen.

The Book Lounge, Cape Town

12 June 2012

Transcribed by Bianca van Laun

Bronwyn: Thank you everybody for coming out on this blustery Cape Town evening. I’m Bronwyn Law-Viljoen, I’m the editor of Fourthwall Books which is the South African publisher of Cedric Nunn: Call and Response. I’m not going to say anything at the end so I’ll just say thank you now to Mervin and everyone else at Love Books for once again being so hospitable and hosting the book launch

Mervin: You mean the Book Lounge

Bronwyn: Oh sorry. (Laughs) I’m so sorry. The last one was at Love Books in Joburg. Book Lounge, sorry Mervin my apologies. The Book Lounge. Thank you. About two years ago I was approached by, I had known Cedric’s work obviously for a long time and so I was absolutely delighted when Ralph Seippel who is Cedric’s gallerist in Johannesburg approached Fourthwall Books with the idea of doing this publication and the German publishers. I think Cedric, he looks so young, I always think Cedric looks so young but he’s been around for ages. (Laughter). Young and sexy says George Hallett.   But Cedric has been at the cold face of South African photography since the 80s, since the 1980s.  He entered the fray at a critical juncture not only in the history of South Africa but in the history of photography, South African photography and I think very quickly established himself as a photographer with a deep sense of justice and at the same time a deep compassion and humanity for his subjects and for the environments in which they found themselves.  And that has always been the thing that has stood out for me and I think probably for many of you who know Cedric ‘s work is his desire to get off the beaten track and although he has been at some of the momentous events and has photographed some of the critical moments in South Africa history, he’s also been to the quiet places, to the places where most of us don’t go, to find the people that he’s really interested in and to whom he feels, with whom he feels a deep affinity. So his photography evinces an enormous generosity and compassion. Patricia is going to be Cedric’s interlocutor tonight. I met Patricia a couple of years ago on the occasion of your publication of John Liebenberg’s book. Patricia is a historian by training and her research and her work is in history but she has obviously developed a very keen sense of the relationship of the visual to history, and of history to the visual in South Africa. She teaches history at UWC and has been involved in very interesting projects about South African photography, to do with South African photography, so I think she’s a very worthy conversationalist and questioner tonight. So thank you very much Patricia for agreeing to talk to Cedric, and over to both of you.

Patricia: Good evening everybody, and it’s wonderful to see many old friends here in the audience. Can everybody hear me? Ok, this is not the first conversation that Cedric and I have had. We’ve had several conversations, dialogues that we have called interviews and I’m very glad Farzanah Badsha is also here tonight because she has also participated in this. Some of us have been trying to interview photographers who were very active in the 1980s in order to understand how photography in a way, and how it shaped history and was shaped by the history of this period.  And that’s the context in which I first came to know Cedric a little bit.  And my memory of those interviews, Cedric is that we would often talk about politics and the politics of organisation, and I’ve always longed to talk to you over and over again, more and more about your pictures themselves. So I want to start by saying I’m absolutely delighted that you have published such a beautiful book and I want to start by congratulating you because this is not an easy process at all. And I think it’s very inspiring that you have done this.  And this and this selection of photographs is something I want to talk about tonight. So what I propose to do is I just prepared four general questions that I am going to pose to Cedric in getting the ball rolling and maybe at the end we can open up to questions from the audience depending on how we go.  So I want to start by going straight into the first section of this book Call and Response, which has a very intriguing title. And I think that the opening of the book is extremely personal, it seems to be a great deal about the spaces of your extended family and it’s a very intense opening or introduction to your work, Cedric. And my first question is really around your interpretation of the ways that families became kind of unstitched, they were unpicked as groups of people were forcibly pulled apart during apartheid. So families that were designated as coloured were for example moved to make way for the new homeland of KwaZulu. And this first part of the book seems to be a meditation on certain kinds of loss. You make repeated poignant remarks in the captions about no traces being left, these could be physical structures of home and the sense of loss is carried over to social issues in the later sections of the book so that forced removals and dislocations are very much the subject matter of your social documentary. Now in the interview you did with Okwui Enwezor he asks you about this, this connection between personal and the political and the individual and the social, and the family and these larger histories. And I imagine that what we don’t see in the book is that, is how difficult it actually is to move between those two divergent areas, from the personal to the political. And I was very struck in the first pages, in the first section of the book that in the face of these kinds of fragmentation it makes many of your pictures all the more remarkable because they seem to reconnect with more peaceful, resonant things. Now your cover image with the circle and the lines and the simple, this twin  portrait or double portrait as it were is somehow pointing to the wholeness that people still seem to have, some kind of connection that remains between them, and between people you’re photographing in this way and yourself. So while physical structures break down or people are dispossessed or dislocated, these relations seem to remain and I know that’s a very broad question, Cedric, but I wonder if you could actually tell us more about your  sense of those connections and what you could pick up as a photographer, your sense of people’s  wholeness despite all the fragmentations and pressures and pushes that they experienced under apartheid?

Cedric:  Thanks Patricia, and first thank you for agreeing to participate in this launch and conversation. I appreciate that.  Firstly I think that for myself, and I think I speak for some of the other photographers that I’ve worked with through the years, there’s always been quite a sense of clarity about this sense of, about the notion of the connection between the personal and the political, that they are intertwined, that they are kind of linked in a feedback loop if you like that affects one and the other and they’re in an evolving dance. And you know the images that start this book out are those personal images and I think that, they are also early images. And I think that at the time that I did them I wasn’t that clear or articulate, that they were done intuitively I suppose. And I might say that I had a sense of it but it’s something that I, in the process and I think that photography, for me anyway has always been about process, a process that’s largely about you know my personal involvement in a question, in an experience, in an evolving political process or social process. So I think that that small band of photographers, and other people at that time, whether they were writers or poets or dancers or actors who were questioning and engaging, trying to engage critically in a social moment felt, had that sense of the interconnectedness. And so it became quite ironic for instance that maybe ten years down the road, down that particular road that we were labelled as ‘struggle photographers’ and branded with ‘fists and flags’ and we certainly did a lot of those photographs as well but I think that the people that made those easy assumptions had never spoken to us, had never interrogated us about our philosophy, our motives. They took on face value the images they saw published on countless alternative media which were about the urgency of the day and getting audiences to respond in a particular way, as what was our media, it was a small part of it actually. So ja, I mean, I think that sense of, I think on the other hand I must be frank as well and say that as sort of struggling documentary photographers, I mean I ran a workshop yesterday where I was reminding students that when we came to photography there wasn’t even a hope of a job or an income of any sort and so in some ways I suppose it was kind of a crazy calling the brought people to respond through images to a situation. That impulse to go out and document wasn’t for the reward certainly of any sort of financial reward, I think that came a bit later when there was a great sense that…, because of course I wasn’t at the, I mean of course there are people, there’s been the drum era that preceded me, there’s people like Goldblatt that preceded me and many people who inspired me and preceded me. Omar is here, a major mentor in my life who also came to use this medium as one that could be an interface and a medium that would communicate certain ideas. So the idea that…, I just want to come back to what I was trying to initially say that a lot of these personal images were also about the fact that this was a, without the resources to go out and do great sweeping projects that involved you know sort of traversing the landscape, one could look at the personal and make a, you know, try to make generic interventions that reflected on a much larger canvas. 

Patricia: Cedric, from what you’re saying it’s really reminding me of how much photography is a very double-edged or double-sided thing where images can travel and as they did in the 1980s they went into packs. If you were a member of Afrapix there was the Friday meeting and the preparation of the pack which was sent out to different groups and the captions and authorship were often removed so there’s a kind of generalisation which I think speaks to this label of the struggle photographer that you are referring to and in that way it sort of remains a rather superficial exercise because those images get read in  particular ways according to certain lines of expectations, the selectivities and everything we enforce that, but that’s one side. What I find so impressive about the beginning of the book to come back to that is that there’s the other side which is this, as you say in your preface that photography allows introspection so it seems that we’ve got both going on at the same time even as photographs travel and have an impact abroad and it affects the anti-apartheid movement within there’s a kind of cooking process, this introspection, and you’re saying that it’s a process that took you quite a long time to figure out. So what I find really amazing in the beginning here is actually it seems to be a small space that you’re covering and maybe even a limited…not a limited range, but a small group of people and I think there’s even the same person appearing in one or two photographs not only your grandmother but the Green twins on the cover and again on page ten in this really wonderful interior shot. If you’ve got the book on page ten, maybe I can just hold it up for a second, you have one twin framed against the glass door and the other twin framed in the sort of, the passage way. But Cedric, what kinds of introspection do photographers like yourself do? Can you say more about that?

Cedric: Ja, I am introspective. I’m a guy. (Laughs)

Patricia: No, is it philosophical, is it emotional, is it inarticulate? Does it require you, do you become more articulate over time or is this still very much a visual language for you? Photographers are always saying that they don’t have words but this is actually nonsense.

Cedric: Ja, I’d say, I mean I’d like to think that I have a, that through this introspective…I think photographers that, look I don’t think all photographers automatically get that introspection thing. You know they’re, I think for a lot of people, you know there’s the urgency of fulfilling one assignment after another. You know news rooms today are under enormous pressure. So it’s very difficult for photographers who work in newsrooms to be introspective about anything other than to get the next angle and you know, and it’s from one thing to another. And I think that…so I’m talking about myself in a particular, I suppose we know who we’re talking about, the kind of photographers who work in a particular way that allows for…I mean you could go in with an idea for instance of what it is you wanted to achieve, but I think that if you’re true to the nature of the medium, the nature of the medium itself allows for, it’s not a televised image that’s flickering at you at 24 images a second. It’s an image that is arrested and allows you to return to it and to meditate on it, to reflect on it, to be moved by it, to be transformed by it, in its full sense of what it is. And I think that photographs do that to most people in fact, they are able to see many things at each visit, that possible. It doesn’t always happen but it’s possible and the truly iconic and great images do that to us, they transform us. And so when I spoke to Okwui about that introspection, I was speaking in particular about the process of editing this particular compilation 30 years retrospective, the process of revisiting an archive and spending a year doing that, and you know, sort of mid-career, mid-life, revisiting an era of your life and spending that time in solitude largely because I’ve chosen to place myself fairly in a place of solitude to reflect and to introspect. And so it has been, ja, it’s been a useful experience I’d say to use sort of a generic term to allow me to connect that process to what’s happening currently for instance, not just in South Africa but globally. You know just on the way here with Bronwyn who picked me up at the airport, you know Bronwyn was talking about her experience in, as a very young person, in South West Africa before it became Namibia, and she spent six months there and travelling out she remembers seeing these convoys of SADF vehicles leaving South West Africa just before it became Namibia and that experience, you know she was saying, she was so young, just out of high school and how profound that experience was but how she, the significance only came later. So there’re introspections about that significance that a lot of us, you know, at that point in time, as they say youth is lost on the young. That experience, if we have to learn from things we have to revisit them and study them in a way and, or otherwise history repeats itself and we are in danger constantly of history repeating itself because there’s a tendency largely to do so. You should know that as a historian.

Patricia: Interesting that each time you look at photographs, they don’t repeat themselves. Cedric, I think what’s really impressive about the book as a whole is that people would normally associate you with a certain period of South African history but by putting your own family history into this narrative and this selection, and I remember that you used to call this project of yours “Blood lines.”

Cedric: Blood Relatives.

Patricia: “Blood Relatives.” What it seems to do is it gives us a much longer trajectory of history, it takes us back to the 19th Century, which is when your famous ancestor, John Dunn was in KwaZulu and it hints at all the changes that people have gone through generation after generation, so from isolation to making a community to then being pulled apart again. So I think that this is actually one of the things that should make us meditate the most about South African history, that it’s not just this tranche of 30 years that we need to think about and that this break from 1994 onwards is actually very very recent and we need to take a much longer view of things. Coming to 1994, Cedric, I just want to touch a little bit on your career and some of the choices you made at the time and the situation you found yourself in as a photographer because at a time when organisations like Afrapix along with many other community-based organisations and political groupings had to either shut down or reinvent themselves, I’m very aware that you took responsibility actually for presiding over the end, the winding up of Afrapix and you made a transition into the Market Photo Workshop where you were very involved in training and building up a new organisation and I wonder if you could tell us more about the kinds of, the reasons for this and why this was important to you?  And what it actually managed to do and sort of the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. And you were in this world and you helped, actually you became a sort of midwife as it were to a new generation of generation of photographers. So could you say a little bit about it?

Cedric:  I’ll try. (Laughs). You know the disillusion of Afrapix was my first experience of what divorce is like. (Laughs). So it was quite a traumatic period. And it’s incredible, it’s interesting to see just as in a divorce there can be diverse stories of how that divorce evolved, so it was with Afrapix. But ja, I did preside over the putting to bed of Afrapix. You know, people say that coloured guys don’t do divorce, (Laughs) I did, I did it to the T, you know and I didn’t do it in my personal life, true to my type caste, but professionally I did in Afrapix. But I suppose you know, again to harp back to a conversation with Bronwyn earlier about how, you know how quickly that process, that transformation, what happened in 1990 and between 1990 and 94 was so rapid that for people who were at the cold face as much as that small band of photographers in Afrapix were, and especially the ones that were from the earlier period, it was quite a difficult, not difficult but it was a process that wasn’t that easy to deal with so we all evolved different mechanisms if you like, different strategies of how to evolve out of that and my first evolution wasn’t that glamorous or high flying, you know, I found myself sort of doing a lot of work around corporates and because you know, what happened then very rapidly was that the funding was pulled from NGOs, NGOs closed down if you remember, if you recollect in that period very rapidly NGOs shut down and people who had been working at NGOs found themselves in government and so our client base disappeared. But I was, I had come out of an era where there wasn’t much support for photographers, young emerging photographers and I had had an enormous amount of support, I had been blessed with meeting the right people like Omar, like David Goldblatt, others, Paul Weinberg…

Patricia: Peter Mackenzie.

Cedric: Peter Mackenzie, who had given an enormous amount, just given, in the most generous way to young emerging photographers and that had a huge impact on me. And it made me realise that if we wanted to transform representation, how we represented ourselves as a people in the Southern part of Africa then we needed to birth a whole new generation of people who would be involved in that process and not see things just simply as career driven, market related exercise. So it made it very easy for me to continue in a tradition basically of doing that. And so that fantastic opportunity as somebody who had never stepped foot in a tertiary institution to run a training institution for young photographers was a god-send made possible by somebody like David Goldblatt, you know that has had a, and continues to have a huge effect on me as a photographer. It’s really, I mean as an educator you know, that in some ways, how inspiring it is to work with sort of young minds who are emerging and  that is the experience that I’ve had and I continue to have where and when I can.

Patricia: ok, I’ve got one final comment perhaps which is, because you know this is unfortunately a very short period of time in which we can delve a bit further into what Cedric is saying, but I just wanted to touch on one more thing that has struck me very forcibly in your book, Cedric, and is something I think comes out in some of your fellow photographers work  which is not only about, as you know the process of doing social documentary where you are wanting to represent and document what is going on in people’s lives and the situations they are in, there is a tremendous sensitivity that I notice here in this book to not only try to document what is happening in people lives but to also try to bring out something about the really unique spaces which people have inhabited even when they are very poor. And I was very struck by a remark you make in your interview again where you say that you grew up in a world without art and you were sort of very visually starved and you felt, I mean compared with people who went to art school or who did photography like Peter Mackenzie. But I’m very struck by the way you as a photographer go back into the spaces of your own family background and you show the enormous pictorial sensibility that people have through their collections of portraits, photographs, ephemera that they keep on the wall and I’m also thinking of how other photographers like Omar Badsha and Chris Ledochowski have shown enormous fidelity to those unique spaces so I’m again wondering, is this something that has struck you later that these spaces are somehow, they really show something about, if you like, the visual culture  that people have, that they’re not actually visually starved but they use pictures to create in their own spaces. Is this something that occurred to you later or were you perhaps aware of it at the time because it’s in a lot of your early photographs even though you say you were without art and visually starved?

Cedric:  Well, I, in my particular family, we had, as in some families have a bent to dance or to music, we had, we definitely all had a sense of the visual, so an organic sense of the visual.  And so when I speak about schooling, I speak about the school you know that in terms of an institutionalised learning about an art, that was absent.  So I had to rely on an organic feel and a process and I think that, of course it would have been correct to say that…, I think art, I mean I subscribe to the notion that art is, its everywhere, its potentially everywhere and within most people. At some point people can produce art somehow, you know. We live in a very specialised, Western world in particular that says that you know, to create art in a very specialised way you have to go to an institution, and you really do actually. You need to go to the institution and be schooled but it’s interesting to see that there’s a movement emerging, even within the Western world that says that, that identifies, as amazing as it is in those institutions that produce and do incredible work that I think within that process there is a problem embedded in it because for a lot of people  it has alienated them from their own agency as being able to participate in something that is  inherently possible for most people, certainly not at that level. I mean Hollywood does the same thing with imaging. I mean if I were to rely on Hollywood’s, you know, use Hollywood as a benchmark for image making as a kind of wanna-be sometimes documentary film maker, I wouldn’t go there because the standard that’s produced of that work, the resources that are put into productions, the training that people have precludes me actually from engaging at that level. And I think, I go on to say in the interview with Okwui that for a long time I felt quite seriously disadvantaged.

Patricia: In what way?

Cedric: By not having a tertiary institutionalised education. But at some point I realised that in some ways that’s what set me apart from most other people who were engaging came with an institutionalised education and what, that I was able to use that to my own advantage because it helped me identify my particular language and point of view. And I think, you know for me the point of view is quite important and I think that it, you know for a long time in South Africa seemingly being, certainly the mid 90s, being somewhat unsexy and “un-PC” to have once had too much of a political focus on your work.  But I think that that’s you know, I think the world we live in now we recognise more so than ever that we have to address certain issues that could be seen as political. That when we give away that power, as we give away that power to image making in Hollywood or to the idea that you, somebody, anybody can produce something that is arguably a work of art, then we find ourselves in a world for instance where we give away our power as being able to make an intervention around issues of economics. We’ve also been told that you, that economics and economic issues are best left to people who are trained in particular schools to think about and supply the answers around how we construct our society economically and it’s been a disaster because all those people have never, almost to every individual that’s been there, been able to for instance predict the crash of 2007. And so you see that when we give away that power of agency we deprive ourselves I think.

Patricia: Well, I think many of us get quite frightened when we see what’s happening with higher education around the globe anyway so your point is very well taken and I think that’s there’s such a problem around this split between politics and aesthetics not only in South Africa’s history but also globally as well that you’re drawing our attention here  to very eloquently, Cedric. I wonder if at this point I could open the…

George Hallett: Yes, I have a question.

Patricia: …to questions, and we start on the left hand side with George Hallett.

Cedric: George, do you want the mic?

George: Do I need it? I spoke to my brother earlier on this evening…swop pictures and one of my favourite pictures. Is it ok?  Cedric, one of the pictures that I always will admire is your shadow of a cross landscape with a woman walking at just the right moment. How, I always wanted to ask you this and now I can ask you this in public, how the hell did it happen that magical moment because that’s the picture that I want to swop with him for one of mine.

Patricia: Ok, he’s referring I think to this one.

Cedric: I feel like I’m in a confessional. (Laughs).

Patricia: Yes, what happened?

Cedric: I got a fixer and I pay them and I said get that woman to walk in that spot. (Laughs). No, actually I mean that church is where I was christened at and its where, it’s the community that my family were for the second time dispossessed, removed from that community. And whenever I had the opportunity I would visit if I traversed this landscape, would stop off at that inner community and sort of visit the old country so to speak where my dad had grown up and been formed and I had a near death experience I’m told on that particular hill where the old Wileys jeep that my dad had at the time when I was being christened I was left in the truck and the brakes were faulty and they discovered the truck beginning to careen down the hill, luckily I’m here because I was saved, obviously. (Laughs). But, ja, I mean I’m often asked as well is there something, is there some sort of Christian  message I’ve got lurking in the background because of this and a preponderance of crosses that appear in my images and my imagery. It’s just a strong signifier and I was only there because I happened to be going through, I spent a bit of my childhood in that community, I visited it, I had a grandmother who still lived there, just before she was one of the last people to leave and I have some very fond memories of visiting an uncle who, and an aunt, who whenever I arrived would make moerkoffie and bake bread for me, and you know I have these incredible sensory…

George: But that moment?

Cedric: No, I happened to be sitting in the shade of that cross and wondered would she or wouldn’t she and she did. As simple as that.

George: A great picture.

Cedric: But that’s how most images are made. You know, you wait and something either happens or it doesn’t you know and, but I was there because of an attachment to a place and an involvement in a history of dispossession.

George: So when that woman walked, I mean I want the magic, at that moment, I mean that moment, that decisive moment. Because that is one of the pictures for me besides other stuff of yours. I would like to find out, did you sit there, did it happen, was it an accident?

Cedric: (Laughs). Ja, George as a photographer you should know that a lot of the images, a lot of the more magical images are magic you know, they evolve magically you know they are not something you work too hard at to create. In fact the more hard you work at an image sometimes the less work it is. I’m also an old African, I believe in sitting in the shade of the African sun.

George: (Laughs).Thank you. Beautiful.

Patricia: Any other questions? Have you got a question Omar? Maybe a microphone?

Omar: I think I’ve got an observation that I wanted to share with Cedric for a long time and I think this is the right moment. I think you’re one of the few people in this country who as a photographer, as an artist, who is able to transform that landscape and make it your own. It’s quite an issue, and I know that this has been a discussion that has happened in different ways in the way we looked at photographs together and as a group, but you are one of those people who in South African photography has put yourself in the landscape, you know that landscape, you are one of the few people in Natal who has documented Natal in a way that nobody else could.  You transcend a number of worlds and you’ve captured that. And its not just about yourselves, its also about an issue of race, an issue of identity and an empathy for this space as opposed to, and I want to use the word race in a very broad way but specifically with photographers because a lot of the photography in our country, not all, I think most of it, all of it, is informed by race and how space has identified us. And that’s why I find your work so rich, Santu’s work so rich and Goldblatt’s work very rich but in a way that has no empathy about identity. Goldblatt’s work doesn’t talk about identity, it talks about white identity whereas you talk about your identity. And it’s that debate that, can you talk a bit about that because it’s that debate for us that was so important then and still continues to be. I’m reminded everyday about Natal in particular and about race and how it shapes people’s spaces. I follow a number of groups around the country on Facebook and it’s incredible the images that come across and how they go back to issues of identity. And in your work, and in particular your work around your family and you’ve integrated that into a narrative about our space and our time. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Cedric: Ok, I’ll try to because its I think a very broad subject. I mean arguably some people would say race isn’t an issue. I’ve heard some people say identity isn’t an issue. I disagree. I think they are issues and I think that, certainly in this country they have been devices used largely to divide and rule. And ja, I mean Omar, you were the person that when I was setting out to do a much larger investigation of the notion of the mixed race, the concept of mixed race, that directed me to family because, an I’m you know thankful that you did that because through the, well through my rather unusual family, a very large aberration of a family in that it’s more like a clan than a family, I was able to have subject matter at hand to do what I could have done around the country, and I didn’t have the resources to go around the country and if I’d come to the Western Cape for instance and tried to, I would have failed I think to have grappled with notions of the phenomena of being mixed race in the Western Cape because it’s so complex and layered. So I spoke about my particular neck of the wood and I focused on that and problems that, I am, you know from a family that is probably a founding family in the province of KwaZulu Natal in that my ancestors, Zulu and white, the white ancestors arrived there at the very interface, the beginning of the interface of white and black and in fact all of them were trans-frontier people who left the confines of white civilisation and chose to locate themselves amongst the Zulus, they chose, that was very important, made a conscious decision to integrate with the Zulu people and even within that choice began the contradictions and the complexities because the agency of, the momentum of those two clashing civilisations didn’t allow for this aberration of, and people assumed that they could integrate and that has always for me created a major dislocation and unease about accepting easy answers about questions of identity and that, and for instance the images around my grandmother I felt spoke to that of somebody who straddled, who was located in that space in a very complex and complicated way but through her I saw, I saw other worlds, I saw possibilities and that was a very compelling exercise and opportunity for me to see what could have been in fact and to make a whole lot of inferences out of that, that made me yearn for what could have been, what else could have been  because the straitjacket that we were put into was one that, I’m at a loss for words here but, it robbed us, it dispossessed, it did more than dispossess us.

Patricia: It reduced the possibilities.

Cedric: It reduced the possibilities in a great way. And I think also what’s one of the most amazing things about where we are now is that we are once again, we have the possibility of being enriched by each other and we no longer have that awkwardness with each other that we once had, the incredible, I mean we have our crucial problems, we have our transformative problems, we have our global problems around the economy and politics but on an individual level we have possibility, and we are all  enriched by that in a manifold way and that’s what I saw there I suppose. And in that landscape, and again focusing on a landscape that I was familiar with and that I had a love for as well and a familiarity with, I was able to have more agency through that, through the images because I mean when I did those images I was based in Johannesburg and I haven’t, arguably as a country boy I struggled to photograph in the city for instance, I struggled to see the signifiers of urban, of urbanity. It took me many years to begin to see the city in a real sense and so those images, my images, my primary experiences is of the landscape of a rural country setting and of course the other thing I suppose on a very logistical level is my ability to speak Zulu which then opened that particular world to me, allowed me to engage with that world in perhaps one level deeper than otherwise.

Patricia: Definitely. I think, unfortunately we have to wrap up now and come to an end and I want to thank Cedric very warmly for raising these hugely important issues and for very usefully forcing us to reconsider easy conclusions that have been reached about an epoch of photography I think that is getting such simplistic understandings about it and you’ve produced a narrative here which has really instated some of those questions about the might have been or what could have been I think very strongly. And so on behalf of everybody here I would like to thank you very warmly Cedric and also thank your grandmother.

Cedric: Thank you Patricia. Thank you.

Mervin: Thanks very much from our side and to Cedric congratulations on a fantastic collection. Thank you Patricia as well for I think leading a discussion which was fitting of this wonderful collection. Bronwyn who is doing a wonderful job at Fourthwall Books and I think Cedric will also agree that they have put together a superb collection. Thanks also to our wine sponsors.


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