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Ernest Cole A photographic exhibition at the Johannesburg Art Gallery

Earnest boy squats on haunches and strains to follow lesson in heat of packed classroom. Caption from House of Bondage Š The Ernest Cole Family Trust


Servants are not forbidden to love. Woman holding child said, “I love this child, though she’ll grow up to treat me just like her mother does. Now she is innocent.” Caption from House of Bondage © The Ernest Cole Family Trust


Handcuffed blacks were arrested for being in white area illegally. Caption from House of Bondage

Š The Ernest Cole Family Trust


Boys Playing. Š The Ernest Cole Family Trust


During group medical examination the nude men are herded through a string of doctors’ offices. Caption from House of Bondage

Š The Ernest Cole Family Trust


During a “swoop,” police are everywhere, checking passes. Young boy is stopped for his pass as white plainclothesman looks on. Checks go on in the townships, too. Caption from House of Bondage

© The Ernest Cole Family Trust


This is almost certainly from a shebeen in Pretoria’s Riverside, just outside Eersterust from which pictures of the same people were published in Drum, May 1962. Š The Ernest Cole Family Trust


This is almost certainly from a shebeen in Pretoria’s Riverside, just outside Eersterust from which pictures of the same people were published in Drum, May 1962. Š The Ernest Cole Family Trust


Which black train to take is matter of guesswork. They have no destination signs and no announcement of arrivals is made. Head car may be numbered to show its route, but number is often wrong. In confusion, passengers sometimes jump across track, and some are killed by express trains. Caption from House of Bondage Š The Ernest Cole Family Trust


Ernest Cole A photographic exhibition at the Johannesburg Art Gallery Ernest Cole believed passionately in his mission to use photographs to tell the world what it was like, and what it meant, to be black under Apartheid. These photographs, of unsurpassed strength and gravitas, reflect Cole’s intimate identification with his own people. With courage and compassion, his lens penetrated the depth and extent of the insanity of Apartheid and how its racist laws oppressed the lives of black people. House of Bondage, a collection of Cole’s photographs was banned in South Africa soon after it was published in 1967. This major critique of apartheid has hardly been seen in this country. Cole went into exile in order to publish House of Bondage. He never returned to South Africa and died in New York in 1990 after more than 23 years away from the country of his birth. He left no known negatives and few prints of his monumental life’s work. During the years 1969 – 1975 he lived in Stockholm, Sweden. Here, Cole was cared for by a photographer who received a collection of prints from him. This set of extremely rare prints, most of them made by Cole himself, were subsequently donated to the Hasselblad Foundation. Never exhibited internationally before, this set of prints can now be seen in this major exhibition. Many are uncropped and, individually presented, they reveal the complex interaction of the strength, subtlety and elegance of Cole’s photographic ‘seeing’. In honour of Ernest Cole and his family, the Hasselblad Foundation has chosen the Johannesburg Art Gallery, South Africa as the opening venue for this unique world tour. Other venues will include the South African National Gallery, Cape Town; Red Location Museum, Port Elizabeth; Durban Art Gallery and the library at Mamelodi Campus, University of Pretoria. The exhibition will be opened by the Ambassador of Sweden, Mr. Peter Teljer at the Johannesburg Art Gallery on Sunday 19 September at 4 pm.


Ernest Cole. A photographic exhibition at the Johannesburg Art Gallery