Experience different perspectives with 'Photographs in our Mother Tongue'

Hasan and Husain Essop Cape Town South Africa variation 2010 Pigment print on cotton rag paper 64 x 92 cm/
Hasan and Husain Essop Cape Town South Africa variation 2010 Pigment print on cotton rag paper 64 x 92 cm/
Image: Supplied.

In its first exhibition for 2021, the Standard Bank Gallery is exhibiting work that interrogates questions of identity and ways of looking at the world.

Using as its basis the idea of speaking in one’s mother tongue, it sets out to ask questions such as: “How do we look at the world – as black, brown or white people? Do we see differently as public figures and private citizens? As urban hustlers and rural travellers? As he, she or they?”

Photographs in Our Mother Tongue is a virtual exhibition of photographs that was inspired, both in title and in content, by the power of photography to communicate messages.

Showcasing images from the Standard Bank Corporate Art Collection, it features work from prominent South African artists, including Santu Mofokeng, Mary Sibande, Berni Searle, Hasan and Husain Essop, Candice Breitz, Kathryn Smith, Mohau Modisakeng, David Goldblatt and Sabelo Mlangeni.

The photographs featured were all produced between 2003 and 2017, a period during which photography became more prominent in SA’s art landscape, and a period in which major shifts occurred in the medium of photography, most notably a change from analogue to digital and the increasingly bigger role social media and smartphones started to play in the production of imagery.

Santu Mofokeng Ishmael eyes wide shut Motouleng caves Clarens 2004 Photograph 118 5 x 168 cm.
Santu Mofokeng Ishmael eyes wide shut Motouleng caves Clarens 2004 Photograph 118 5 x 168 cm.
Image: Supplied.

While the subjects take on various forms – from self-portraits to blurred subjects – the images are experimental and reflective and appear in stark contrast to the documentary and journalistic-style images that were prominent under Apartheid and the country’s early entry days of democracy.

“Standard Bank shares the Corporate Art Collection with the public so they can experience the different perspectives of life through photography”, says Dr Same Mdluli, Standard Bank Gallery Manager and Curator.

Photographs in Our Mother Tongue opened on 15 April and will be running until 30 May 2021. While the Standard Bank Gallery remains closed to visitors, the exhibition will be available to view online. To view the exhibition, visit http://art.sbvr.co.za.