Acclaimed South African photographer Cedric Nunn will visit the University of Virginia on September 16th and 17th, and I couldn't be happier. Cedric is both an artist whose work I've admired for many years and a friend. I can't wait to hear him speak and to introduce him to my students.
Cedric will speak about his most recent work, Unsettled: One Hundred Years War of Resistance by Xhosa Against Boer and British, on Thursday, the 17th, at 5:30 in 101 Nau Hall (the auditorium in the South Lawn buildings). The talk is free and open to the public. After 5:00, free parking is available in the South Lawn lot, which you enter off of Brandon Avenue. (Here's a map.)
Photo: Courtesy David Krut Projects, New York/Copyright Cedric Nunn.
Cedric first rose to fame in the 1980s as a member of the "struggle generation" of photographers who aligned themselves with the anti-apartheid movement. The term "struggle" was always a bit misleading. Although the photographers thought of themselves as activists in the freedom struggle, they were never solely interested documenting the movement. Cedric, for instance, photographed subjects as diverse as jazz musicians, rural development, and his own extended family -- all with tremendous subtlety and lyricism.
Graveyard in which 1970s struggle hero who died in police detention in 1977, Steve Bantu Biko is buried and memorialized. King Williams Town. 2013. Courtesy David Krut Projects, New York/Copyright Cedric Nunn.
Unsettled, Cedric's most recent work, explores the landscapes on which the Xhosa and other indigenous people fought eighteenth- and nineteenth-century wars of resistance against Dutch and British colonialism, as well as the lives of contemporary communities that still occupy much of that land. These are quiet, searching photographs that invite -- and reward -- contemplation and reflection.
Church elder, W. Pringle, with silverware donated by a descendant of the founder of the N.G. Kerk at Herzog, which was expropriated by the South African government circa 1980, due to the consolidation of the Ciskei Homeland. Most of the church members left for a place called Friemersheim, near Mossel Bay, purchased with the expropriation money. Fewer than ten families remained behind, clinging to the old church. Tambookiesvlei, Kat River Settlement. Courtesy David Krut Projects, New York/Copyright Cedric Nunn.
Cedric says this about Unsettled:
"This essay looks at the land, which was occupied, desired, defended, lost and won. In it we see both the uses and states it is to be found in today, both by the victors and the vanquished. We are able to imagine the heroism and the misery it inflicted on its actors as they either defended or attacked. We see too, how little of this memory is commemorated or honored. We see the smug vanquishers, and the vanquished. We see the continuing collaborations, which have always been necessary to maintain the status quo. We see the beauty, which stirred the souls of the inhabitants and the lust of the invaders."
A closer view of KwaGompo (Cove Rock). East London. Courtesy David Krut Projects, New York/Copyright Cedric Nunn. [KwaGompo is the site of some of the earliest human settlements in South Africa's Eastern Cape Province. It's also a place that has held religious significance for indigenous people for centuries.]
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An exhibition of photographs from Unsettled opened last week at David Krut Projects, in New York City. The show will be up until the last week of October. Go if you can. It's terrific.