Tuesday 20 November 2012

Ernest Cole

In the current Barbican exhibition of photographs from the 1960s and 70s (too big, too much, too disparate, but some wonderful stuff), I saw for the first time the beautiful light and form of humane, often angry, often unforgettable photos by black South African photographer Ernest Cole. I'd never heard of him and watched with difficulty the old and clunky US documentary on show in an adjoining room - with difficulty because the film included an interview with Cole and I thought perhaps I'd never such seen a personable, articulate, determined man so nervous and unable to look at the camera. What a hard story to contemplate: superb work done against all odds all over Apartheid South Africa; his banning and exile; the publication of his book, The House of Bondage; the acclaim, the grants, the commission not completed; the too-early death of that haunted man in the old film and the disappearance of his negatives, found and shown and admired only in recent years. I hope his work will continue to be exhibited and published and appreciated.


Zhoen said...

Not Teju, right/

Jean said...

Zhoen, it crossed my mind to wonder if this other Cole might have had anything to do with the younger one choosing that for his public name.

Melinda Fleming said...

Oh. How this makes my heart ache. Again.
His work is beautiful. I've never heard of Ernest Cole - even though I grew up in South Africa.

This is but one instance out of many (by now) where the country of my birth and coming of age, is revealed to me more fully by sources outside it.

Thanks for this!