Against Time at Bamako Encounters, African Biennale for Photography

Against Time
The Tierney Fellowship Project in South Africa

Curators: John Fleetwood with Jo Ractliffe and Svea Josephy

A themed exhibition featured at Bamako Encounters, African Biennale for Photography
Biennale Africaine de la Photographie

Opening: Saturday 31 Oct 2015, 18h00

31 October – 31 December 2015
Modibo Keita Memorial Centre,
Bamako Biennale
Against Time examines photographs usage in documentation and representation of time and space.  Agreeably, photographs do not offer a clear picture of history, or of the present. Instead the fragmented and interpretative nature of images disallows their content to offer clear and linear understandings of time, and of space. Following two decades of democracy in South Africa, there are questions about how the past keeps moving into the present, and persists to be part of the future. These lingering pasts and desired futures have created spaces for new identities and new ways of seeing.

This exhibition seeks to unpack the factors that invent these new identities and ways of seeing with in and around urban environs.  Addressed subject matter includes socio-economic positioning, cultural shifts toward popular cultures; globalisation and digital advances of cultural production. Further ideas to be visited are post-colonial re-readings of relics throughout our cities and spaces, and the role of transitions and transformations within this newly envisioned environments.

This group exhibition foregrounds the ways in which contemporary South African photographers engage ideas of time in relation to the nation’s two decades since democracy (1994-2014). This work is drawn from the Tierney Fellowship’s programme, a partnership between the Market Photo Workshop, Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town and the Wits School of Arts, which has supported talented emerging photographers since 2008. Featured photographers include Ashley Walters, Juan Orrantia, Mack Magagane, Nobukho Nqaba, Paul Samuels and Sipho Gongxeka.
About The South African Tierney Fellowship
The Tierney Fellowship was created in 2003 by the Tierney Family Foundation to encourage promising artists in the arena of photography.  The principal objective of the Fellowship is to find the future leaders in photography and to support them in conquering the challenges that an artist faces at the beginning of his or her career.

The aim of the fellowship is twofold: encouraging fellows to produce a new body of work and creating a global community of artists that functions as a crucial support network in an increasingly competitive field. The Fellowship supports the recipients both financially, by way of a grant, and technically and conceptually, with mentorship and guidance from experts in the field.

Fellows remain an important part of the programme after the conclusion of their structured mentorship. Seminars and critiques are held throughout the year to facilitate interaction between all current and past recipients, encouraging discussion about their photography, work experience and lives as artists.

The Tierney Fellowship programme ran for the first time in South Africa in 2008. In South Africa, partner intuitions include WITS School of Arts, The Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town and the Market Photo Workshop.  Each of the institutions has a slightly different way of administering its’ Tierney Fellowship and the Tierney Foundation gave us the autonomy to structure the fellowship in a way that worked for our individual institutions and our institutions collectively. This is important as our fellows range from diploma students to post Masters, are different ages, and come from different walks of life. It is important to us that we have the freedom to respond to each fellow’s individual needs.

Mentorship, a key component of the Tierney Fellowship in South Africa, has thrived in part to a number of dedicated and substantial mentors.  Mentors of Tierney fellows from the host institutions include Svea Josephy, Jean Brundrit, Jo Ractliffe, Rory Bester and John Fleetwood. Market Photo has also appointed mentors such as Pieter Hugo, Mikhael Subotzky and Nontobeko Ntombela. Fellows have also been mentored from outside the institution, by experts in the field. Since 2008 these have included Stephen Shore, David Goldblatt, Roger Ballen, Mikhael Subotzky, Santu Mofokeng, Tracey Rose, Thembinkosi Goniwe, Pieter Hugo, Berni Searle, Patricia Hayes, Guy Tillim, Mary Sibande, Ernestine White, and Nomusa Makhubu amongst others.