Ernest Cole: Chronicler in the House of Bondage

  • Location: South African National Gallery
  • From: January 1, 2008     To: July 13, 2008
Ernest Cole: Chronicler in the House of Bondage

Ernest Cole is considered one of the most eminent of South Africa’s photographers. His single greatest achievement was the series of photo essays that was published as House of Bondage in 1967, an indictment of the inhumane conditions under which black South Africans were forced to live under Apartheid during the 1960s.

After fleeing the country with the photographic prints required for his book in 1966, Cole settled in the United States. House of Bondage was banned shortly after it was published and Cole himself became a banned person a year later, forcing him into permanent exile. Outside of South Africa, his images were used extensively by the anti-Apartheid and the American civil rights movements, but within his own country, his work was seen by only the few who had access to smuggled copies of the book. The whereabouts of Cole’s photographic negatives, both for this and a subsequent project undertaken in America with funding from the Ford Foundation, are currently unknown; original prints are rare.

In 2005, Iziko was granted funding by the National Lotteries Board to acquire a small collection of work, possibly made in preparation for the publication of House of Bondage. These are exhibited to honour the magnitude of Cole’s contribution to South African photography and his passionate commitment to documenting the human spirit under Apartheid.

Enquiries

Pam Warne
Tel: +27 (0)21 467 4660
Email: pwarne@iziko.org.za

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