SF: Visual archives are often created and configured from the perspective of power. Modifying archive material to resignify the image is a way of ‘decolonizing’ the gaze, of disarticulating the mechanisms of representation.
JO: The idea is to emphasize the fact that an image is not the only version of a place but is also a response to the structures of the gaze.
Artists like Jo Ractliffe and Santu Mofokeng, for example, do so from their own experiences and stories. Ractliffe’s photos evoke traces, memories and silences from the conflict in Angola. Santu talked about concentration camps, the history of Apartheid, the townships, but from a poetic viewpoint through his personal experiences in these periods and spaces.
Another mechanism is the subversion of images. I try to take up ideas that link montage and film essay (for example Statues Also Die and Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil) to African history and anti-colonial discourse. Therefore, I sometimes incorporate text into images or create digital collages; to shake up meanings from these stories, from their places and images.
The photo book by Juan Orrantia, Like Stains of Red Dirt, was published in 2020 by Dalpine. More information here.
Salym Fayad, like Juan Orrantia, is a Colombian photographer based in Johannesburg. Fayad also works as a reporter and over the past years he has organized events that aim to strengthen the cultural links between African and Latin American countries, such as the African film festival MUICA, among others.
Translation from Spanish by Zarifa Mohamad Petersen