From Apartheid to Neo Liberation: David Goldblatt and Ivan Vladislavich’s Portraits of South Africa in Transition”
South Africa, though 15 years into democracy, is still a nation riven by the history of conquest, and the inequalities of apartheid. Those memories remain in the landscape, and on the bodies of the people: monuments to discredited apartheid-era leaders, once proudly tended to, fall into disrepair as the ideas they represented fall out of vogue, while others remain in city squares. David Goldblatt, the South African photographer, and Ivan Vladislavich, the Johannesburg-based writer, comment on how the monuments of apartheid – both physical and conceptual – not only persist, but re-enter the public discourse in wondrous and novel guises. Goldblatt’s images of South African cityscapes in transition, and Vladislavic’s written portraits of Johannesburg probe the way in which apartheid policies, though dismantled in the legal books, have reappeared in the country’s neo-liberal policies. Goldblatt and Vladislavic record the experience of the ordinary woman and man as they eat of monumental change; they document how those who do not have access to power experience extraordinary historical transitions, performing the dramatic changes that accompany a monumental shift in power. My paper explores the confluence of photography, writing, architecture, and the embodied performance of political transition.
Keywords: South Africa, Memorialisation and Memory, Photography, Monuments, Transition, Apartheid, Postcolonial Theory
Dr. M. Neelika Jayawardane
Assistant Professor, Department of English/Global and International Studies (SUNY-Oswego)