Masixole Feni: Drain on Our Dignity
From August 3 to 29, 2017, CAS Gallery will present Drain on Our Dignity, a book launch and exhibition by South African artist, Masixole Feni, winner of the Ernest Cole Award (2015). Feni, an activist photographer who has worked for GroundUp and Social Justice Coalition, documenting social issues around Cape Town, won the award for focusing his camera on the lack of service delivery and the life of the marginalised. As he states, “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 with 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.”
Masixole Feni’s work echoes the ground-breaking images produced by Ernest Cole in the early 1960’s showing black life under apartheid. The book called House of Bondage, published in exile and immediately banned, reflected on the lives of the marginalised 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 of 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.
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