Join Lisa Espi and Ruth Sack, curators of The Portrait Racket exhibition for a walkabout on the final day of the exhibition; Sunday, October 4th at 3pm in Hiddingh Hall.

The practice of airbrushed photographic portraiture was brought to South Africa from Chicago in the nineteen-thirties and became a widespread and flourishing business.

Practitioners referred to it as “the portrait racket”. In their research curators Lisa Espi and Ruth Sack follow the path of these photographs between rural villages and urban townships to the artists’ studios and back again.

The exhibition examines how this practice and the technical production of portraiture arose and developed in South Africa and how within different contexts and communities, the genre took on different meanings and significance. The curators consider the conventions and visual tropes that became standard in the genre, looking  at these images in an intimate familial context, as representations or commemorations of family and how they functioned in political terms, as currency in questions of property, gender and status. 

The curators will address reasons for the significance of the practice in the context of South Africa, and what lay behind the conventions and visual tropes, which became standard in the genre.

The walkabout, parking and tea/coffee is free, at UCT’s Hiddingh Hall (31-37 Orange street, Gardens, Cape Town) from 3pm to 4pm on Sunday, October 4th 2015.

All are welcome.

Start: 4 Oct ’15 3:00 am

End: 4 Oct ’15 4:00 pm


Organizer: GIPCA


Venue: Hiddingh Hall

Phone: +27 21 480 7156

Address: UCT Hiddingh Campus, 31-37 Orange Street, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa