Launching the PACSA photograph exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany
Category : PACSA news
About 35 people gathered on the campus of the Frankfurt University on the 17th July 2015 for the launch of the photograph exhibition ‘So leben wir – Alltag in KwaZulu-Natal.’ This exhibition, compiled by the well-known South African photographer Cedric Nunn, was first exhibited at the 2014 PACSA Film and Arts Festival. The German exhibition is funded by Bread for the World and organised by the German Ecumenical Service on Southern African (KASA. A number of those present for the launch have been friends of PACSA from the anti-apartheid days or had worked in church circles in South Africa.
Mervyn Abrahams, PACSA Director, described the exhibition as providing us a new perspective, to see beyond the illusions painted by the powerful in society, to learn about solidarity, democracy and human agency from ordinary people who claim their power to shape their own destiny and create cracks in the walls of inequality and state power. Speaking at the launch, Ms. Helle Døssing, from Bread for the World, mentioned that the exhibition is an expressing of a global solidarity against poverty and indignity. Through this exhibition we are creating possibilities for greater solidarity between people in Germany and in South Africa. Ms. Simone Knapp, Director of KASA said, that organising this exhibition and taking it to various cities and towns in Germany attest to the strength of a global partnership against indignity and invited participants to also take a photograph of themselves and write a short note to people in South Africa on what life is like on a daily basis for themselves in Germany. It is hoped that the messages from Germany will be shared with people in KwaZulu-Natal.
The importance of this photograph exhibition lies in its potential to provide insights into and honestly render the human condition. It allows entry into the lives of others and evokes a range of emotions, such as empathy and outrage, sorrow or joy. Importantly, it can also encourage action, particularly in the face of social injustice. Twenty-years on and the dominant narrative about life in South Africa is one of socio-economic inequality, poverty, corruption and violence, as we recently saw in the horrific xenophobic violence. However, there are other narratives too, narratives of human agency which is the reality of ordinary people who claim the space to be, to organise and to act for a life of dignity for themselves and others.
It is this narrative which this exhibition celebrates. Where people imagine new forms of solidarity; reclaim their power to shape their destiny at a local level; claim their right as agents to transform their lives for the better; who through small actions create a crack in the walls of inequality, poverty and violence and who claim and assert their humanity, in relation to other human beings. In celebrating the human spirit to rise above that which oppresses, in this instance poverty and inequality, this exhibition tells the human story.