Daniel “Kgomo” Morolong and Hugh Masekela: Mesh Photography Series
From August 31 to September 28, 2019, Everard Read’s Circa gallery in Johannesburg will present Mesh Photography Series, an annual photography programme aimed at acquainting critical photography practice with audiences who are yet to engage with the genre. To engage with the photography of Daniel “Kgomo” Morolong and Hugh Masekela’s music is to connect with meaning and memory across time and space.
It is something like a story told about the sculptor, Alberto Giacometti who was once asked about what he wanted to happen to his works when they’d ultimately have to leave the studio. He replied: “bury them in the earth, like that, they may be a bridge between the living and the dead.” We learn this from an essay by John Berger, about Marc Trivier’s photographs of Giacometti’s work.
To read Morolong’s photographs is to witness pictures as “a bridge between the living and the dead;” himself included. Every act of gazing into the images re-members and connects us with the lives whose flitting moments he froze in these collected frames. Morolong dared to memorialize their vitality, vulnerability; and to rehumanize them at a time when the state legislated to lessen the validity of their claim to life. By daring to gaze at, and see Morolong’s subjects, we enter into a concert of empathy with him and them; sharing a moment of life now passed but not lost.
Photography shares this capacity to bridge time, space and meaning with music, jazz music in particular. During the connection of performance, musician and listener affirm each other across time and space. We are able to reach back to memories through remembered songs; connect and sing along to voices and bodies that are no longer with us – defying death or distance.
By connecting the recently departed trumpeter Hugh Masekela and photographer Daniel “Kgomo” Morolong – a double bassist himself – we converge these shared features of their respective artforms. Masekela’s music was for many years a conduit between exile and home, the memory of loved ones and immediate lived realities of those who heard him. His capacity to work across generations expanded on this idea of art as a bridge. To see these two creatives alongside each other may tease out further connections. In this way Morolong’s images may echo the sound of Masekela’s horn – the music may rhyme with the pictures; creating a bridge between artforms, lives and memories across time and space. – Percy Mabandu
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