Last Name: Godfrey
Nominated by: John Fleetwood
Mineral exploitation by means of cheap disposable labour has brought about national economic growth, making the mining industry the largest industrial sector in South Africa. ‘The mine’, irrespective of the minerals extracted, is central in understanding societal change across the country. This enabled me to channel my conception of the project into visual representations that gave agency to these forgotten communities. ‘Legacy of the Mine’ sets out to build a visual narrative that documents those whose lives and livelihoods have been destroyed by mining processes and the long-term environmental ramifications, to expose far-reaching neglect by successive governments and corporate bodies that have driven the mining industry and to explore how people have coped within their circumstances. Once a symbol of wealth and a formidable force in the development of South Africa, ‘the mine’ today reveals scars of neglect and decay and as such poses an irreversible threat to our society.
Indigenous knowledge is embedded in the cultural and spiritual lives of many South Africans. 80% of the population rely on traditional medicine in various forms, collectively called Muti and its curative, preventive, protective or harmful powers whether of a medicinal or supernatural kind. Westernisation, colonialism, urbanisation, apartheid and the mergence of cross-cultural relations have brought into dispute the distinction between the traditional healer, witchcraft and the emergence of bogus healing practices. Acknowledging conventions of documentary photography and the principles of ethnography vs. medical science and how these can be reconfigured, I will venture into spaces that challenge our perception of what is truth and fiction. By photographing multiple layers that shroud this subject in secrecy and suspicion, medical style journals’ will incorporate resources and photographs, questioning the role of Muti within the urban and rural landscape and its influence on a country where tradition and modernity play hand in hand.