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Work in Progress

8510736 Debra Marakalala at 'Free Mandela' rally Durban 15 Dec BW 72 15cm_edited-1_edited.jpg

An Eye for Freedom - An Exhibition of Photographs by Gille de Vlieg

Anti-apartheid activist Debora Marakalala, Free Mandela Rally, 1986. Photograph by Gille de Vlieg

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Special Issue on Photography and Resistance of the Journal MAI: Feminism and Visual Culture

Photograph: Melaw Nakehk’o is Dehcho Dene and Denesulene from Liidlii Kue, Denendeh Northwest Territories. She is a Mother, Artist, Moose hide tanner, Actress and and co-founder of the Indigenous organization Dene Nahjo.

From the series, “Resilience and Resistance”, by Kali Spitzer, 2015.

 Image courtesy of Kali Spitzer


Women, Photography and Transnational History

The image shows my grandmother Stella and her mother-in-law walking in Johannesburg, c. 1940, photographer unknown.

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Project Name

This chapter provides a concise history of visual activism in South Africa and focuses on how contemporary artists and activists make use of visual forms to intervene in public space, to document injustice, and to express dissent. The chapter argues that visual activism is best understood as a call to those who look to move from seeing and knowing to acting. Through analyses of works by visual activists Zanele Muholi, Haroon Gunn-Salie, and the Tokolos Stencils Collective, and through engaging with a campaign created by the social justice movement Section27, the essay shows how such work draws attention to homophobia and sexual violence; impunity for crimes against humanity; and ongoing inequality in the aftermath of apartheid. The essay also considers what occurs when visual activist works are detached from collective mobilizing and circulate within the neo-liberal art economy, producing forms of atomized solidarity. 

Forthcoming in The Routledge Companion to Art and Activism in the Twenty-First Century edited by Lesley E. Shipley and Mey-Yen Moriuchi. 

Research: Work
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