“Landscapes Between Then and Now brilliantly explores how artistic and critical practices of post-apartheid South Africa and Namibia chart a creative and critical path out of habituated ways of looking at the world with a Western, colonial and inherently unjust gaze. This lucid, innovative and deeply ethical study of a range of genres and artists will quickly become an enduring and indispensable book for anyone concerned with camera-based art practices in our globalized age.”
– Ulrich Baer, New York University, USA
“This is an extraordinary book for those interested in a more prismatic consideration of the visualization of history at the interstices of violence, race and modernity in Africa; here the landscape itself is the primary archive. Focused on Southern Africa, Brandt reaches beyond the knowing silence photography can engender, to give voice to formerly unspeakable things that perhaps can no longer remain unspoken.”
– Erica Moiah James, art historian, curator and professor
“Landscapes Between Then and Now reminds us of the extraordinary enmeshment of histories in Southern Africa in spite of rigid man-made borders and the traumas that came with them. In tracing the work of key artists working in photography, performance and video art, it delves into the complex politics of land and reflects on nuanced tensions emanating from different places, spaces and time periods. In many ways it creates a context for important debates around collective memory and commemoration that are ongoing today.”
– Tandazani Dhlakama, Assistant Curator, Zeitz Mocca Museum, South Africa
“The past can be owned, just like landscape. The temptation to assert meaning, rather than to make visible, is as ancient as the hills. The writer guides us deep into this overlapping terrain as she examines landscape, memorial, monument and our memory of what happened to us.”
– Guy Tillim, South African photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson Award winner, 2017
"Brandt writes insightfully about the individual bodies of work selected for in-depth consideration. Her underlying argument, that contemporary ‘landscape’ photography in the region should be understood in relation to the social documentary practices predominant during the apartheid years, is both valuable and convincing."
– Darren Newbury, author of Defiant Images: Photography and Apartheid South Africa
"In this moment of seismic shifting – of ideas, of power, and of the ways we construct and interpret knowledge – Brandt’s book is an insightful guide to readers attempting to navigate ‘landscapes’ – both as physical environments, and more so, as social and psychic spaces."
– Nomvuyo Horwitz, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
About 'Landscapes Between Then and Now'
In Landscapes Between Then and Now, Nicola Brandt examines the increasingly compelling and diverse cross-disciplinary work of photographers and artists made during the transition from apartheid to post-apartheid and into the contemporary era.
By examining specific artworks made in South Africa, Namibia and Angola, Brandt sheds light on established and emerging themes related to aftermath landscapes, embodied histories, (un)belonging, spirituality and memorialization. She shows how landscape and identity are mutually constituted, and profiles this process against the background of the legacy of the acutely racially divisive policies of the apartheid regime that are still reflected on the land. As a signpost throughout the book, Brandt draws on the work of the renowned South African photographer Santu Mofokeng and his critical thinking about landscape.
Landscapes Between Then and Now explores how practitioners who engage with identity and their physical environment as a social product might reveal something about the complex and fractured nature of postcolonial and contemporary societies. Through diverse strategies and aesthetics, they comment on inherent structures and epistemologies of power whilst also expressing new and radical forms of self-determinism.
Brandt asks why these cross-disciplinary works ranging from social documentary to experimental performance and embodied practices are critical now, and what important possibilities for social and political reflection and engagement they suggest.
Table of contents
Map of the Region
South Africa, Namibia and Angola's Entangled Histories
Constructed Race Categories and Critical Whiteness
Defining Space/Place and Landscape
No Innocent Landscapes
The Ethnographic Gaze
Defining Documentary and an Ethics of Seeing
Zanele Muholi's 'Somnyama Ngonyama'
Reflecting on German-Colonial Heritage and the Namibia Genocide
1. Beyond Bearing Witness
Women in Documentary Photography
Margaret Courtney-Clarke: In the Harsh Light of the Present
A Departure from Social Documentary
Contemporary Representations of 'Home' and the Metropolis
2. Santu Mofokeng's Appropriated Landscapes
'Sunflower Harvest': Power Dynamics of Apartheid on the Land
Inverting the Tropes of Colonial Landscape Depictions
3. Picturing Stillness, Aura and Ambivalence
Santu Mofokeng: Chasing Shadows
Andrew Tshabangu: A Guide and Ferryman Who Helps Us See
'Unequal Scenes' and Poisoned Landscapes
Sabelo Mlangeni's 'My Storie'
4. Namibia's War of Independence: Power, Knowledge and Amnesia
John Liebenberg's 'Bush of Ghosts'
An Installation after John Liebenberg's 'Grave site at Uupindi'
Jo Ractliffe's 'As Terras do Fim do Mundo'
Beyond the Rhetoric of Revelation
5. Memorial Landscapes: Between Documentary Realism and the Imaginary
Nicola Brandt: 'The Reiterdenkmal' and 'Changing Histories'
Practices of Historical Retrieval and Healing.
Kristin Capp's 'Morenga's Namibia'
David Goldblatt: Memorials and Structures That Embody Value Systems
Shifting Ideologies and Power Structures: Kiluanji Kia Henda's Conceptual Practice
Indifference: A Near Documentary Practice
6. Histories and Landscapes Embodied
Reclaiming Bodies, Reclaiming Spaces
A Conditional Presence in the Landscape
Berni Searle's Trilogy 'Black Smoke Rising'
Isabel Katjavivi's 'The Melting Passage of the Self'
Queering Spaces: 'The Dance of the Rubber Tree'
'A Nomad in Time': Kitso Lynn Lelliott's 'Hauntologies'
Sethembile Msezane's 'Chapungu – The Day Rhodes Fell'
7. Imagined Geographies and New Practices of Self