Last Sunday, Hangberg, Hout Bay, Cape Town, 11h53am
All images © Antoinette Engel.
great photos, antoinette
Wow. Powerful, beautiful and compelling photos! Without images we do not get the story out.
Antoinette, your decision to use black and white is deeply problematic. Firstly you are making this an aesthetic statement rather than a record of a human or political moment. Secondly, you are are appealing to cliched iconography (“classic” war- or protest photos, each laden with their own baggage) and in so doing avoiding asking the most difficult questions about this protest. It is too easy to set the camera to BW and start clicking, churning out Bob Cappa Redux, setting up the Hangberg residents as classic victims of oppression. Laura LeBlanc wrote a comment saying that “without images we do not get the story out” – it is precisely that level of naivety that allows governments to control public opinion: we think pictures are real, instead of an incredibly carefully planned frame put around a carefully selected image that supports your political view. You have carefully selected your images, giving us no sense of some of the tougher issues here: that the residents do not accept Roman Dutch law property rights while simultaneously demanding all the other rights that come with that legal system; that they are doing profound damage to the KhoiSan land claim cause by instigating violence in the name of that cause; that they have resolutely refused to engage with any municipal attempt to find a solution to the problem; etc, etc etc.
“It is too easy to set the camera to BW and start clicking, churning out Bob Cappa Redux, setting up the Hangberg residents as classic victims of oppression.”
So these photos in colour, would tell a completely different story?
i don’t full agree with @chucky’s statement but i do get that the BW images just take you back to the ‘AH SHAME’ emotion and doesn’t really let you decide if you feel bad for them or not… and i do feel bad for them.
also @Antoinette Engel is just putting it out there…
Freedom is choice! if this was for the paper i might feel a lil stronger about the fact that the journo did not give me a choice.
@ Chucky your comments are not just problematic but ill- informed:
“Instigating violence in the name of that cause….”
I’ve been to Hangberg several times since the clashes with police,
and the story I’ve heard from ALL the residents I met (from all creeds and walks of life)
is that the police came in and opened fire FIRST. We also have video footage of this.
In terms of property law, there are procedures that must be followed when evicting people from land, and those were NOT followed by the city. There was no court order when the police pulled in that day and started dragging people out their homes. There was an aggressive campaign by Zille and the City of Cape Town to paint the community as shit stirrers and hooligans and in the words of Zille herself, “drug lords.” Whereas the metro police and the premiere are the biggest gangsters of all.
These pictures are not trying to tell the whole story, they are covering a peaceful march where people from all over the City came out in support of the people of Hangberg. They are a sign of solidarity, with people who are “classic victims of oppression.”
Check out these links to get a fuller picture:
Powerful images Antoinette. You have an eye for capturing the moment. Congratulations.
I don’t have a digital camera to “set the camera to black and white to start churning out Bob Cappa”-style photographs. I’ve got a Minolta from the 80s, I’d run out of film, a friend gave me his agfa apx 100 b&w and that’s what I used because I wanted to keep documenting the march.
re: your comment “You have carefully selected your images, giving us no sense of some of the tougher issues here” please let me refer you to the excerpts below from an article by Dustin Kramer, of the Social Justice Coalition, entitled: “Real Threat in Hangberg is marginalisation of the most vulnerable in our society” which you can read in full at writingrights(dot)org
“Whether or not criminals were involved in this particular violent clash is a separate (and less important) question than the actual long-term crisis of poverty and settlement upgrade faced in Hangberg and elsewhere.The continued focus on the “criminal element” that is apparently to blame for nothing less than the continued existence of Hangberg itself is simply to maintain an excuse to hold the entire community to ransom – the latter situation incidentally Plato conceded as reality in his Sunday Times response.”
“Blaming communities in this way goes even further than this diversionary tactic, towards a kind of pejorative labelling that is destructive as it is unfounded. Zille recently argued that we needed to begin talking about the ‘unmentionable’ causes of poverty (SA Today 27 August 2010). These apparently include, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS contracted through unprotected sex. She paints the picture of the poor as an unethical, unrestrained collection of brutes, who are incapable of self-respect and adherence to a democratic rule of law. Accordingly, one can only deduce that for Zille, if people just stopped sleeping around and drinking, they would miraculously be able to escape poverty. Notwithstanding the way that this approach flies in the face of the history of poverty in this country (not to mention the idea of causation in social science), it is also undeniably devious to attempt to lay the ‘burden of proof’ on the most marginalised people in our country. Are the poor therefore condemned to be responsible for the fact of their very own marginalisation?”
“Plato claims that the rule of law has been under attack in Hangberg and must now be protected. He is correct in this. It is just that the attack is much bigger and more complex than that which he describes. A democratic rule of law can never be measured simply by the extent to which citizens adhere to institutions of the state. A democratic rule of law is only present to the extent that civil liberties and civil rights are respected and ensured – by citizens and more importantly by the state – in a just, accountable and fair manner. This then forms the basis for a legitimate and democratic rule of law. Hangberg, like many other informal settlements in Cape Town, has existed for decades and will continue to exist for the foreseeable future. Dealing with the immense task of informal settlement upgrading will require this government to reconceptualise its approach into a meaningfully consultative one that does not rely on collective punishment or pejorative labelling of the poor, but rather is based on the respect of people’s rights to dignity and participation in democratic processes, including development.”
If I’m wrong I’m wrong. I don’t think I am. Clearly the photographer and the commentators here are less interested in the underlying messages of photographs than they are in the Hangberg situation. Maybe that’s a good thing. Perhaps I’ll go and have this argument somewhere else.
Powerful stuff my fellow 75er. 🙂
Let’s appreciate some awesome photos and an interesting time in the history of our country and the Western Cape.
“Chucky” your knowledge obviously exceeds that of us mere mortals. Perhaps you’d like to link us to some of your own socio-political photographic art work?
power. power. power.
@ James Bondage
What a asshole thing to say. So now to criticise you have to be actually engaged in the particular mode of cultural production you’re criticising? What kak.
I have no problem with your comment as long as you can acknowledge that your comment is also only YOUR own political view. That, and you might try to be a bit more friendly and less scathing in your commentary. Everyone has the right to express their experience without judgment.
hau , zonke umalungu ikhala
great response to that chucky twit, antoinette!
“Everyone has the right to express their experience without judgement.”
No one has the right to express their experience without judgement. What, so everyone should just say what they want and we should leave them to it? Criticism is constructive, we need more thought, more criticism, more engagement.
It’s a difficult situation this… balancing the needs of people with the need to preserve our natural environment. All to often human encroachment puts wildlife at risk, if not at complete peril of existence (we had lions and cheetahs roaming the Cape before collialisation). Baboons are severly threatened and I’m tired of hearing people saying how they’re not important but people always are when we have billions on the planet. People need homes, but the government / local council needs to somehow think of how to manage the situation to meet these needs. I know if I was in this situation and desperate, these needs would come before all else.
I think photography – as is art and music – is all in the eye of the beholder. One must come to their own understanding of it themselves. Chucky came with all his baggage and instead of owning it – thiese are all his opinions which he mentions clearly (‘damage to the Khoi San’ etc) he refuses to take ownership and instead lays all blame at the photographer. These are images – no more – make your own interpretation. I think they’re great and it’s a wonderful talent to have – to provide snapshots of these moments for people to make their own realisations and increase their level of awareness and understanding.
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