Gwala: Gordon Clark & Imraan Christian

1 - 31 October 2020 Berlin

Wassertorstraße 62, Berlin-Kreuzberg

Under the title GWALA, we are showing selected photographs by Gordon Clark and Imraan Christian at Salon Wellenmaschine in Kreuzberg."Gwala" is a slang word of "Afrikaaps", a modification of Afrikaans that is spoken by the people living in the Cape Flats.The meaning of the term GWALA stands for the pride in one's own origin and identity. In their artistic work, both photographers dealing with documenting the identity, reality and fiction of the societies of the colored people in the Western Cape flats.


Imraan Christian, born in Cape Town in 1992, is a young photographer and filmmaker. The artist and committed activist describes himself as "Son of the soil". In recent years, in addition to his own series of works, he has worked on projects including worked with UNICEF, CNN and the BBC. Christian gained international fame with his documentation of the student unrest in South Africa in 2015/2016. In the exhibition GWALA, works from his new series “Ma se Kinders” are on display for the first time. The title is named after a slang term of tenderness, which means "mother's children".

This body of works is about the growing up of coloured South Africans, about the cohesion in their families, the circles of friends, the gangs. The setting is the fishing village of Hangberg near Cape Town. A place that Imraan has a special relationship with. “This place is symbolic for me. It stands for a community of people who identify as an indigenous group and live in an exceptionally beautiful landscape with a sea view." There is self-confidence and a great will to resist any kind of discrimination and racism. During apartheid the idyllic Hangberg was a coloured residential area according to the laws of the “Group Areas Act”, which meant that non-white people were expelled from their houses to other places in order to be forcibly settled there. The legacy of the system of oppression has contributed to widespread poverty to this day, as a result of which adolescents organize themselves into gangs. Successful gang leaders are revered as heroes, violence and weapons has been glorified. As a result, the indigenous communities of the Cape Flats in Cape Town have acquired a reputation for being not only strongholds of organized crime, but also centres of resistance. Hangberg became known for its political protests and unrest, as an expression of the defiant ethos of the people there. “Ma se Kinders”, however, shows a different, fictional, futuristic reality, characterized by love and affection, of care, helpfulness and solidarity in families, groups and circles of friends.

 

Gordon Clark (* 1955) was born in Johannesburg. He is a renowned photographer and director who has gained international fame for his fascinating portraits of unusual landscapes and people. The protagonists in the artistically staged photographs by Clark are special individuals who live outside of the usual social norms. In doing so, the artist questions our established viewing habits and aesthetic sensations. In his visually stunning compositions, Clark interweaves complex narratives by inserting themes into choreographed natural environments that force the viewer to interpret the various dilemmas that play a role in everyone's life. Turner Adams is at the centre of his series The Outcome. Gordon Clark met Turner Adams during a peace congress of criminal gangs in Cape Town through Ernie Lastig Solomon. Solomon is a former gang boss with whom Clark has just made a film about his life in the Cape Flats. Clark was not only impressed by Turner's physical appearance, his tattooed face and body, but also by his openness to share his life story, especially that of his turbulent childhood, with him. Turner was born in an area of ​​Cape Town known as District Six, a neighbourhood near Table Mountain. Its established structure was destroyed by forced resettlement during the apartheid era, which led to the destruction of the social relationships of the people there. Turner's neighbourhood, friends, and family members were forcibly evicted from District Six and dispersed in various locations - some of his friends Tuner never saw again. This early trauma had a major impact on his life as it triggered his career as a gangster, which ended up in long prison terms. When Gordon Clark met Turner in 2012, he re-joined society after 24 years in prison. Clark recalls: “In conversation I mentioned that I would be interested in working with him and taking pictures of his life. This idea met him with great enthusiasm. " Clarks impressively arranged photographs not only give us an insight into the reality of life in the Cape Flats, which is so strange to us, but open up to it viewers also gain access to the emotions and thoughts of a person like Turner Adams.