Photography Legacy Project (PLP) Auction 2021 Press Release
The PLP and Aspire Art auction of 2021 brings together a diversity of styles and content from across the continent. Sixty eight photographers are participating in the second auction of African photography organized on the continent. Under the broad theme “Africa by Africans”, brings together an exciting diversity of subject matter ranging from social and physical landscapes to the private interiors, from gender-based issues to surfing culture. The auction reflects ingenuity and commitment of African photographers who continue to practice their craft under extreme challenges. Two young award-winning women photographers are featured this year. Lee-Ann Olwage’s essay on the transgender community highlights both the difficulties and is simultaneously a celebration. Collaborating with Belinda Qaqamba Kafassie and other individuals, she produced a fashion shoot in the surrounding townships of Cape Town which won a World Press award. As Olwage explained, “The project was created to serve as a platform of expression for black queer individuals where they were invited to co-create images they felt told their stories in a way that is affirming and celebratory.”
Belinda Qaqamba Kafassie,Khayalithsha, Cape Town. This project #BlackDrag project co-created by her
and photographer Lee-Ann Olwage image won a World Press award, 2020.
Zimbabwean, Tamary Kudita’s essay, African Victorian won the Open Photographer of the Year, at the 2021 Sony World Photography Awards. Her work explores and disrupts stereotypical representations of African identity. “Subversion is implicit in my elected mode of practice and my choice of representation demonstrates a subject position congruent with that of Santu Mofokeng, who seeks to tell a transparent narrative about black lives by constantly unsettling the comfort zones of racial and cultural memory,” she told Contemporary Art magazine.
African Victorian series, Tamary Kudita, winner of the Sony World Photography award,2021 featured in the PLP auction this year.
One highlights is the creative response of photographers to the Covid 19 pandemic. This includes Lamyne M’s stark and inventive portraits, theatrical performative imagery of Raissa Karama Rwizibuka tempered by Jabulani Dlamini, Lindokuhle Sobokwe and Marc Shoul’s social documentary interventions.
Lamyne M’s creative response to the Covid pandemic.
Jabulani Dlamini’s Covid 19, series, South Africa
A large group of emerging photographers share their photographic endeavours. Self-reflexive imagery on Youth culture range from the performative collective called Kongo astronauts from the DRC to the documentary works of Nigeria’s Etinosa Yvonne’s and Algeria’s Abno Shanan. Kongo astronaut’s multi-media practice includes photography, film, sculpture, and performance, and engages with Kinshasa’s alternative culture network. Kongo Astronauts’ Afrofuturist prism projects a reality that surmounts both the postcolonial chaos of their urban setting.
Gordwin Odhiambo is a photographer born and raised in Nairobi. His photography critically explores the lives of young people and how they navigate the realities around them in one of Africas’ biggest cities. His work nuances reductive stereotypes, offering alternative images from Kenya’s urban slum communities.
An older generation of established names like David Goldblatt, Alf Kumalo, Michael Meyersfeld, David Lurie, legendary Drum photographers like Bob Gosani and Ernest Cole participate alongside Mohamed Amin from Kenya. Mohamed Amin, a veteran documentarian who died in a fateful hijacking on an Ethiopian Airline flight in 1996. Amin was instrumental in covering the major events in East Africa from the 1960’s. His son Salim, with a similar goals as the PLP, has established the Mohamed Amin Foundation to safeguard his legacy and make it accessible for future generations.
A host of award-winning photographers rub shoulders with the past. A rare collection of endangered and disappearing South African vernacular photography is also represented by acclaimed studio portraitist, Bobson Sukhdeo Mohanlall (Bobby Bobson), as well as William Matlala and Ronald Ngilima. While this genre from West African has been widely seen in recent times, less exposure has been given to the South African version and its contribution to this part of world visual heritage.
Old traditions from a modern wedding. Women greet the couple with symbols of the wife’s duties to
the husband and family, Gauteng [Transvaal], South Africa, c 1965, Ernest Cole
A classic moment of Dorothy Maseku dancing from Drum’s archive
Oath magazine, an exciting initiative established by Stephanie Blomkamp offers work of some the photographers who have been published in her magazine. Oath’s mantra is, “to celebrate the art of photography, champion new talent from Africa and shine a light on overlooked archives.” Goodman, Melrose along with Axis and Akka Galleries have also contributed work from their stables, augmenting the pool of talent and diversity from the continent.
With the support of last year’s auction, the PLP were able to digitize a new group of photographers from South Africa, Sudan and Kenya, some of whom are represented in the auction. The archive of Ralph Ndawo, a peer of Peter Magubane and Alf Kumalo who worked for Drum and the Rand Daily Mail has been kept by his daughter Rachel for decades since his untimely death in 1980. It is now digitized and available for the world to see. Henion Han, a Chinese born South African who documented the Chinese community, as well work from the archive of Lindeka Qampi are in the auction. The efforts of photographers and the archives represented underlie the vision and spirit of the PLP to continue the digital preservation of photographic heritage much of which is perilously endangered so that African photographic collections and archives may remain on the continent, be accessible and researchable for future generations. The auction links the archive with contemporary practice and cumulatively it is a celebration of the continent’s creative imagery.