Middle Grey: How my camera looked at me

26 August - 14 September 2014

The camera is a remarkable instrument. Saturate yourself with your subject, and the camera will all but take you by the hand and point the way. Margaret Bourke-White.

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In July, the KZNSA Durban Centre for Photography held a 5-day photographic workshop at the Durban Art Gallery. This workshop was facilitated by osmosis liza, Paulo Menezes and Shirin Motala. The workshop was collated in response to the exhibition – “Photos in Black and White: Margaret Bourke-White and the Dawn of Apartheid in South Africa, which showed photographic works by Margaret Bourke White whilst on assignment in South Africa from 1948 -1951, a important record of the impact of Apartheid policies in different racial and ethnic groups. This workshop saw 12 participants use the photographic works and approach of Margaret Bourke White as a case study for looking, seeing and regarding their own social, political and cultural identity as frameworks for subjectivity to expresses their views and creativity with photographic text. Importantly this workshop asked: "How do I make photographs so that I can ask: Why do I have to make photographs?"

‘Middle Grey’ makes reference to the zone ruler, a density chart, of 11 tonal values, used by photographers to control the level of light and dark to one’s best advantage for controlling exposure. Middle Grey is the center point between the extremities of pure black and white.  The title ‘Middle Grey’ indicates a neutral point, but in this workshop it is a departure point to provoke opinion and insight, asking the participants to regard themselves as active visual commentators and citizens in ‘democratic’ South Africa and tell us what they see in their environment that tells us more about their social, political and cultural identities to foster a subjective view of the world.

These series of photographs on exhibit were made in one afternoon.  The participants walked around the City Hall vicinity, the center of Durban City, engaging spaces and people with curiosity and discovery. The participants of the workshop were Zinhle Khumalo, Mylo Menora, Clive Sithole, Olga van Eck, Susan Davies, Siyanda Manqele, Sandi Nzungane, Thabiso Khumalo, Sabelo Mazibuko, Roya Varjavandi, Dumisane Ngcobo and Siphiwe Mpanza. This series of black and white images are made from the notion of personalized lenses of living in and being African, showing diverse realities and multiple ways of engaging a common place.
 

The image supplied is by Roya Varjavandi

DURBAN CENTRE for PHOTOGRAPHY
KZNSA Gallery • Glenwood • Kwazulu Natal
+27 (0)31 277 1705
 

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