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David Krut Projects

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Archive for the ‘Angola’ Category

Exhibition: GIPCA and Michaelis Galleries Present Not My War

Sandile ZuluPenny SiopisTerreno OcupadoThe Michaelis Galleries and the Gordon Institute for Creative and Performing Arts (GIPCA) present the exhibition Not My War. A number of artists represented by David Krut took part in this exhibition.

Press release:

GIPCA and Michaelis Galleries reflect through Not My War

The Michaelis Galleries and the Gordon Institute for Creative and Performing Arts (GIPCA) present Not My War, an exhibition of works by significant South African artists reflecting on the country’s involvement in border wars in Northern Namibia and Southern Angola during the 1960’s to 1980’s. The exhibition opening is at 18:00 on 29 June, and it will run until 25 July.

Up until 1994, almost all able-bodied white South African men were called up for National Service around the year they turned 18. Most were put through rigorous physical and skills training, and many sent to fight in South Africa’s so-called Border War in Northern South West Africa and Southern Angola.

Marking the 25th anniversary of what is now commonly referred to as the Border War’s bloodiest and most decisive battles, most notably at Cuito Cuanavale, Not My War looks at how a selection of artists have been impacted by and responded to this critical point in the nation’s of history.

As far as most of these conscripted young men were concerned, there was little option but to perform their national duty. One’s call-up could be deferred for a few years if one studied, but to avoid it meant facing harsh consequences. The options were to object on conscientious or religious grounds and face a six-year jail term, or flee the country.

Since the shift in political power in 1994, many of the men that fought in Border War have felt themselves to be recast in an insidious light. While many soldiers believed the SADF’s rhetoric that they were fighting in Angola to shield their country from the violent tide of communism, the war is now widely regarded as an unjust conflict that upheld the racist interests of Apartheid. The Border War has in many ways become forgotten in post-Apartheid South Africa, as remembering this ‘silent war’ it would mean – both on an institutional and personal level – engaging the struggle to reconcile the propaganda, trauma, heroism and racism implicit in a discussion of its nature.

In recent years, however, a large amount material concerning South Africa’s Border War in Namibia/Angola has burst onto the cultural landscape. Where a decade ago such material was scarce, in the last five years there has been a considerable surge of novels, biographies, documentaries, films, theatre, photography and visual art all dealing with this subject. It would seem that the muzzle on South Africa’s ‘silent war’ – in the cultural sphere at least – has begun to lift.

Furthering the resurgence of dialogue around this ‘silent war’, Not my War will endeavor to engage the complex personal and institutional discourse surrounding this conflict, as well as highlight the war’s continuing relevance and effect on South African society.

The exhibition is curated by David Brits, and participating artists are Wayne Barker, Christo Doherty, Paul Emmanuel, John Liebenberg, Jo Ractliffe, Colin Richards, Chad Rossouw, Penny Siopis, Christopher Swift and Gavin Younge. Exhibition and catalogue text by Natasha Norman.

For further information, please contact Cara van der Westhuizen, Tel: 021 480 7170 and

The Michaelis Galleries are at the Michaelis School of Fine Art on the Hiddingh Campus, 37 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town. Opening hours are Tues – Fri 11.00 to 16.00, Sat 10.00 to 13.00 or by appointment.

Book details

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Jo Ractliffe Explains the History Behind Angola’s “Proxy Cold War” and Its Place in Her Imagination

Jo Ractliffe

As Terras do Fim do Mundo Terreno OcupadoJo Ractliffe, the photographer behind the series of haunting photographs depicted in Terreno Ocupado and As Terras do Fim do Mundo, explains her preoccupation with the “Border War” that took place in the 60s to 80s in Namibia and Angola.

Ractliffe says that while she was photographing the unrest of Cape Town townships in the 80s, she read about Angola. She says, “Until then, in my imagination, Angola had been an abstract place. In the seventies and early eighties, it was simply ‘the border’, a secret, unspoken location where brothers and boyfriends were sent as part of their military service.”

There are many myths about what is known to white South Africans as the ‘Border War’. Fought primarily in Namibia and Angola from the mid-1960s to the late 1980s, it engaged a series of conflicts that merged into one of the most complex and protracted wars ever fought in Africa. Alongside its local raison d’êtres, the war in Angola also unfolded as a proxy Cold War, mobilised by external interferences, secret partnerships and undeclared political and economic agendas. All of these manifested in a range of deceptions, from the violation of formal international agreements to illegal operations, secret funding and the provision of arms. It was a war of subterfuge; a fiction woven of half-truths and coverups. Even now, over twenty years later, many of its stories have yet to be told.

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Photo courtesy Stevenson Gallery

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Jo Ractliffe Captures Angola’s Invisible War in As Terras Do Fim Do Mundo

As Terras do Fim do Mundo Julia Halperin looks at the quiet desolation of Jo Ractliffe’s photographic exhibition As Terras Do Fim Do Mundo, which captures the ravaged landscapes that were once the battlefields of the Angolan Civil War. Says Ractliffe, “I’ve always been interested in the way landscape holds memory and violence, and the way landscape is contested, and how much people’s nationhood is connected to land.”

South African photographer Jo Ractliffe is very good at noticing things other people don’t. For two years, she traveled around the deserts of Angola with former South African soldiers, taking photos of a landscape that had been entirely ravaged by civil war. At the debut for the series — now on view at collector Artur Walther’s new Chelsea project space — the soldiers with whom she traveled finally realized what she had been up to. “‘Oh, that’s what you were looking at,’ they would tell me, ‘while we were over there looking at a minefield.’”

The series, “As Terras Do Fim Do Mundo,” marks Ractliffe’s United States debut. It is a chronicle of the now-empty battlefields of the Angolan civil war, fought between 1975 and 2002. “For 20 years, this war played out in a kind of nowhere land,” said Ractliffe. “It was a landscape that didn’t matter, that could be relegated to war.”

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Meet Jo Ractliffe at the Troyeville Hotel

Jo Ractliffe at the Troyeville Hotel Supper Club

Jo Ractliffe’s photographs chronicle a country, Angola, that is only now emerging from the crossroads. Meet this extraordinary photographer and hear her in conversation with William Kentridge-collaborator Philip Miller at the Troyeville Hotel’s supper club.

As Terras do Fim do Mundo Terreno OcupadoFrom the club’s notes on the evening:

“Our next guest is Jo Ratcliffe, a writer and photographer whose latest work is a collection of images from the battlefields of southern Angola to which she travelled in the company of men who fought there. Jo has worked previously on the physical and social landscape of Luanda, but in the black and white photographs of As Terras do Fim do Mundo (The Lands of the End of the World), Jo captures the eerie silence of the traces of war. Jo will be talking about Angola, the ex-soldiers, the battlefields, and how war is remembered and imagined.”

See you in Troyeville!

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 26 May 2011
  • Time: 7:00 PM for 7:30 PM
  • Venue: Troyeville Hotel, 25 Bezuidenhout Street
    Johannesburg | Map
  • Guest Speaker: Philp Miller
  • Cost: R150pp, excluding drinks. Bookings essential.
  • To book:, 011 402 7709

Book Details

  • As Terras do Fim do Mundo by Jo Ractliffe
    Book Homepage
    EAN: 9780620485517
  • Terreno Ocupado by Jo Ractliffe, Okwui Enwezor, David Goldblatt, Charles Skinner
    Book homepage
    EAN: 9780620422062

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Jo Ractliffe Photographs Angola: As Terras do Fim do Mundo and Terreno Ocupado

Terreno OcupadoDavid Krut Publishing presents two books by photographer Jo Ractliffe, Terreno Ocupado and As Terras do Fim do Mundo focusing on Angola after independence.

As Terras do Fim do Mundo

Last year, I went to Luanda for the first time. Five years had passed since the war had ended. I entered the myth.
– Jo Ractliffe

Five centuries of Portuguese rule came to an end on 11 November 1975 when Agostinho Neto, leader of MPLA, proclaimed the People’s Republic of Angola. But it also marked the beginning of Africa’s longest and most convoluted civil war. Divisions between the liberation movements, fuelled by Cold War politics and the interests of other African countries (notably South Africa), laid the foundations for the violent conflict that subsequently consumed Angola for nearly 30 years. It was only after the death of rebel UNITA leader, Jonas Savimbi, in February 2002 during a clash with the Angolan army, that military leaders on both sides agreed to a ceasefire, paving the way for a final political settlement and peace.

During the war an estimated 1.5 million people lost their lives; one in ten children under the age of fourteen lost one or both parents and 43 000 were separated from their families. In its wake four million people were displaced from their homes and nearly half a million others sought refuge in the neighbouring countries of Zambia, Namibia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, and even South Africa. The country’s infrastructure was all but destroyed as were eighty per cent of schools, in a country where half the current population is under 18 years of age. The widespread use of landmines also had devastating consequences that continue to be felt to this day. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that eighty million landmines were left scattered across the country and Angola has an amputee population of 70 000, 8 000 of whom are children.

Ironically, the civil war strengthened a sense of national identity and common purpose. But the challenges that face Angola now are profound. Most of its citizens have been resettled or re-integrated – although some 200 000 refugees still live outside the country and 62 000 remain internally displaced. But the majority are without land, adequate housing, water, health care, education or jobs. And although the country has now embarked upon the monumental task of reconstruction, it is one that despite Angola’s natural wealth and burgeoning economy is beset with problems.

Ractcliffe’s photographs chronicle a country only now emerging from the crossroads.

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As Terras do Fim do Mundo Terreno Ocupado

In 2009/10, Jo Ractliffe traced the routes of the “Border War” fought by South Africa in Angola through the 1970s and 80s. Following Terreno Ocupado, which focused on Luanda five years after the country’s civil war ended, As Terras do Fim do Mundo shifts attention away from the urban manifestation of aftermath to the space of war itself. Ractliffe’s black and white photographs explore the idea of landscape as pathology; how past violence manifests in the landscape of the present.

Jo Ratcliffe on photographing Angola:

I first read about Angola in Another Day of Life, Ryszard Kapuscinski’s book about events leading up to Angola’s independence. This was during the mid-eighties – some ten years after it was written. At the time, South Africa was experiencing a period of intense resistance and increasing mobilisation against the forces of the apartheid government, which was also engaged in the war in Angola. I was photographing in the townships around Cape Town – images that would form the material of a series of apocalyptic photomontages of urban wastelands, resettlement camps and dogs (titled Nadir). And amongst other books on landscape, dispossession and war, I was reading about Angola. Until then, in my imagination, Angola had been an abstract place.

Last year, I went to Luanda for the first time. Five years had passed since the war had ended. I entered the myth.

Book details

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