8 April – 6 November 2011. LIVING APART: Photographs of Apartheid by Ian Berry at the International Slavery Museum .
A stunning exhibition showcases the work of top photographer Ian Berry who has captured some of the most important moments of South Africa’s history over a 40-year period of struggle and dramatic change.
Living Apart: Photographs of Apartheid by Ian Berry features about 90 evocative images documenting the collapse of apartheid, the historic appointment of Nelson Mandela and its remarkable aftermath.
Berry, the only photographer to record the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, was born in Preston. He first went to South Africa aged 17 and made his reputation as a photojournalist working for the Daily Mail and later Drum magazine.
After more than 10 years, Berry moved back to Britain to work for the Observer Magazine but returned to South Africa many times. Photographs on display, covering the period 1960 to 2004, graphically reflect the great changes in South Africa.
Thought-provoking images range from two men doing an impromptu pavement dance, a very young nanny (nursemaid) looking after a baby girl, a child with her nanny at a National Party rally, supporters perched on a huge Nelson Mandela poster and a township resident laughing in torrential rain.
Dramatic images record the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 – crowds flee as police open fire and a woman lies dead. Others include a crowd in Soweto being forcibly dispersed by police, the first pass burning demonstration and police breaking up a strike by garment industry workers.
Dr Richard Benjamin, head of the International Slavery Museum, says: “Like many students and activists in the early 90s, I actively campaigned against the abhorrent apartheid system. This exhibition not only illustrates how discrimination can be officially sanctioned but that resistance by the people will in the end the win through. We are also pleased that the Biko family are now patrons of International Slavery Museum.”
South Africa’s ruling National Party developed the system designed to protect the rights and privileges of the country’s white minority. Apartheid is an Afrikaans word meaning apartness.
From 1948 different racial groups were forced to live separately and unequally under a regime of political, legal and economic discrimination.
Apartheid came into world focus when a non-violent protest was organised at Sharpeville, south of Johannesburg. It was brutally suppressed by armed police – at least 69 people were killed and more than 180 injured. Some of Berry’s photographs were used in the trial proving the victims’ innocence.
Both the African National Congress (ANC) and Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) were banned. The ANC formed a military wing led by Nelson Mandela. Following a sabotage campaign, he and several other ANC leaders were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Opposition to apartheid continued, led by such high-profile figures as Bishop Desmond Tutu who received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.
The growing worldwide condemnation of the apartheid regime and unjust imprisonment of activists eventually loosened the National Party’s grip on power. Mandela was released in 1990 after President F W de Klerk lifted the ban on the ANC.
Talks on forming a new multi-racial democracy began and in 1994 Mandela became the country’s first Black president. Since the end of apartheid, South Africa has become a leading economic power in the region and had tried to come to terms with its troubled past.
Living Apart is a Magnum Photos touring exhibition. .
More information at http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ism/exhibitions/livingapart/
This exhibition is part of Liverpool’s first ever international photography festival, Look11. Further information is on the Look11 website.
An impromptu pavement dance. Johannesburg, 1961 © Ian Berry/Magnum Photos