An exhibition of photographs by Laurie Sparham
Curated by Siona O’Connell

Event outline

A photographic exhibition of the ANC in exile in Tanzania and Zambia will open at the Michaelis Gallery, UCT Hiddingh Campus, 31-37 Orange Street Cape Town on Thursday, 12thMay 2016 at 18h00.

The exhibition has been conceptualised and curated by UCT academic Dr Siona O’Connell, Director of the Centre for Curating the Archive at the University of Cape Town (UCT), and exhibits for the first time images from award-winning reportage photographer, Laurie Sparham.

PROMISES AND LIES: THE ANC IN EXILE investigates the historical and contemporary meanings of the ANC in exile by taking Sparham’s images as a starting point. O’Connell opens a set of questions on democratic South Africa  against the backdrop of the Freedom Charter to offer an opportunity to think about the growing chasm between the promise of freedom then and the reality of a contemporary moment marked by crisis and failure. The exhibition is made up of 80 photographs, text and archived film footage including that of Oliver Tambo, Chris Hani, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma.

Curatorial statement

The years 1989 – 1991 marked a world in transition, the fall of the Berlin Wall as a visual marker of the demise of the Cold War and the fall of apartheid though the return of exiles and the negotiations process. Much like those years, the past two years in South Africa has signaled a shift, one that has been brought to the fore by student- lead protests around the slow pace of transformation to the recent Constitutional Court ruling of the Nkandla saga.

These photographs of the ANC in exile in Tanzania and Zambia in 1989-1990, taken by award-winning reportage photographer, Laurie Sparham, offer a chance to consider the sacrifices of the past, the promise of freedom then and a contemporary landscape of lies in which we are all complicit. The images compel us to think about links, traces and the contemporary South African moment that seems to be marked by crisis and failure. As such, it is a crucial prism through which to think about how we want to live, our own accountability and what questions we want to put to history in order to live up to the erstill to be realised promise of freedom that was made in 1994.