I can say for sure that this year I saw one of the most interesting and fascinating photography expos of my life in Milan: I am referring to the Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life, a great expo of photographs, movies, books and documents that tell the long and hard battle of South Africa against the apartheid (literally “separation”) from 1948 to 1994.
The expo, curated by Okwi Enwezor and Rory Bester and created by the New York Center of Photography, was held in the PAC (Padiglione d’arte contemporanea) in Milan until the 15th of September (sorry for the late announcement, but I went on the last day!). This huge expo is a dedication to those who bravely battled for civil rights in South Africa, especially photographers who felt invested in leaving proof of all the injustices and abuse operated by a white minority against the black population.
Leaving the spacious rooms of the PAC, you had the feeling that this was one of the most inhuman and shameful crimes of history outside of American slavery and of concentration camps. Shame is indeed the feeling that I felt most during this amazing tour among these very beautiful photographs where every aspect of life was represented: from politics to daily segregated life… riots to protests, nights of fun to music- this is about life during those dark years.
Also the most representative people are pictured there: from a very young Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie to the leaders of the Trade Unions and the UDF and Miriam Makeba.
The expo also proposes a very interesting view on the South African artists who fought against the apartheid: among them, I was particularly impressed by Adrian Piper’s “Vanilla Nightmares” of which targeted the laws against sexual and love relationships between blacks and whites drawing. He chose to use the pages of the New York Times to canvas these beautiful yet desecrating and provocative images.
I also enjoyed a huge collection of South African covers of the black magazine Drum (especially the Miriam Makeba cover!) and other European and American magazines (even Vogue!) from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s treating the theme of the apartheid on their covers or in editorials.
It was a long and interesting journey that I took through the PAC last month, but really worth my foot ache!
(Yes, I am wearing a work uniform: light blue shirt, black trousers, heels but… isn’t my Mafalda canvas bag too cute??!!)