Drain on Our Dignity: book and exhibition launch

Masixole Feni will present his portfolio from the 2015 Ernest Cole Award

Photo of toilet in a flooded road
Photo: Masixole Feni

Masixole Feni, the winner of the Ernest Cole Award, 2015 for his project – A Drain on Our Dignity, will launch his book and exhibition on 3 August 2017 at the Centre for African Studies (CAS) Gallery, University of Cape Town (UCT).

Feni, a photographer who has worked for GroundUp documenting social issues in Cape Town, won the award for focusing his camera on the lack of service delivery and the life of the marginalised. As he says, “I live at the back of an RDP house in Mfuleni on the Cape Flats. I experience issues like poor sanitation, access to clean water and the flooding first hand”.

Sixty years after the anniversary of the Freedom Charter which campaigned for basic human rights, one person, one vote as well South Africa’s democracy, many South Africans still find themselves struggling for basic living conditions. As Feni points out,”Marginalised people were neglected by the apartheid regime. Twenty three years into our democracy, it is a reality that has stayed the same for many.”

Feni’s work echoes the groundbreaking images produced by Ernest Cole in the early 1960s showing black life under apartheid. The book called House of Bondage, published in exile and immediately banned, reflected on the lives of the marginalized and the poor and became a universal reference point for anyone who wanted to know more about the apartheid system.

Feni travelled throughout the local townships to explore life from this perspective and develop a book and exhibition. Observing Feni’s work, spatial researcher, architect, Ilze Wolff, who wrote the introduction to the book notes, “His visualisation of inequality, structural violence and his own imaginative response through photography is in itself a reflection on human creativity despite the limits put forward by power.”

For Feni living in the margins of Cape Town make him angry. “‘Every day we read about people’s anger and frustration but we don’t get to see the other side.” But for Feni his work transcends the mere record of this life to show the resilience of people who make a dignified life under difficult and unjust conditions.

The book A Drain on Our Dignity is published by Jacana Media.

A Drain on Our Dignity will show at the:

  • CAS Gallery 3-29 August
  • KZNSA Gallery, 5-28 September
  • WAM, 28th October, 2017 – 28th February 2018

For more information please contact - Paul Weinberg, co-ordinator, Ernest Cole Award. Paul.Weinberg@uct.ac.za 021 650 5251

See also: http://www.ernestcoleaward.uct.ac.za

Feni often publishes photo essays on GroundUp. 

TOPICS:  Arts and culture

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