Documents of Memory: South African photography in the 1980s


Documentary photography has retrospectively been associated with a progressive and liberal cause in South Africa. This photographic genre is inscribed within the 1980s and early 1990s, a moment in time when photography is widely considered as a ‘truth telling’ genre and an important source of documents articulated against the violence of the apartheid regime. This talk will consider the formal qualities of photographs produced during the apartheid era and the impact of such images in post-1994 museums, physical landscapes and public consciousness. Guests will be encouraged to consider the interplay between memory and photography, and especially the way in which documentary photography has filtered the public access, understanding and remembrance of South African history.

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Born in Switzerland, Julie Bonzon (PhD) is a London-based art historian and a specialist in South African Photography. Following a Bachelors in History of Art and Social Sciences at Université de Lausanne (2014), she completed a Masters in History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London (2015) and an AHRC-funded PhD in History of Art at University College London (2020). Bonzon has led curatorial and education projects at Magnum Photos London, The Photographer’s Gallery, The Ian Parry Scholarship and Phillips Auction House and worked at Messums London as Director of Photography. She is currently working as Artistic Director on a photography programme with The Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage in Lausanne and Co-Editor of the Contemporary African Photography (CAP) Prize. She has written for several publications, including L’Oeil de la Photographie and the 10th Bamako Biennale catalogue. She founded The Photographic Collective in June 2020.

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