The book is a gem of modern day social photographic mythology. Mendel, having left his negatives of Apartheid struggles in South Africa for nearly three decades was confronted with their deterioration when he retrieved them from his friend’s garage who had been housing them over the intervening decades. The negatives smoulder in their decaying state creating a miasmatic skin in which the subject matter implied inside from the tumultuous historical moment take on new life and crosses the divide between memory and death, history and witness.
Gideon and I spoke about a number of things from his background growing up in South Africa, to his work and the major themes in regards to Freedom or Death including his collaboration with Argentinian artist Marcelo Brodsky and how it feels to re-examine work of such a historical behemoth of a moment in South Africa and the world at large.
I took away a keen sense of responsibility from Gideon during the course of our discussion, but also felt the spark of life so missing in the Artworld at times. It felt refreshing to speak about human matters on the ground and at a time in early 2020 before the storm began in earnest….