Tracing Territories is the result of an ongoing living heritage project that has taken place in Makweteng over the past year, following nine years of involvement in Tlokwe. Sixteen photographers, selected at the start of the project in 2011, spent time photographing in and around the area as well as participating in various workshops and interventions. The exhibition showing 10 bodies of work by 11 photographers will be shown in The Photo Workshop Gallery in February 2012. In addition, the project will be presented as an outdoor exhibition as well as a screening in and around Tlokwe on 17 and 18 February 2012.
Much of South Africa’s stories remain untold, particularly on the peripheries of contemporary centres, historically famed spaces and amongst the many people who lived ordinary lives. Yet, the nature of our socio-political history is that the ordinary was never really ordinary and that politics has always permeated parts of our lives, despite gender, race and otherwise. Makweteng was a multiracial “native location” in Potchefstroom until the 1950s. Along with the well-known “black displacements spots” such as Sophiatown, District Six and other lesser-known communities throughout the country, the people of Makweteng were forcibly removed and their original homes bulldozed as part of the separate development strategies of the apartheid state. Little is known about this highly significant site of the earliest instance of urbanisation in the interior, and in particular black urbanisation and communities of freed slaves.
Makweteng is a pivotal reminder that the history of South Africa remains complex and has never been simply black and white, particularly in relation to the assumed history of Potchefstroom as a bastion of Afrikanerdom. An extensive process of research, community engagement, and fieldwork has brought these photographers to produce work on a wide and variant range of aspects of the communities that are shaped by the history of Makweteng. Core to the work on this exhibition, is the question of how photography interacts with history, how one comes to photograph a place that is not visible, that once was. The works on exhibition explore notions of memory, of movement, of the layering of meaning, and of the relations that remain.
Photographers on exhibition: