Entry Title: "MARIKANA MOMENT: SCENES FROM A STRUGGLE 1652-2013"
Name: ROELOF PETRUS VAN WYK , South Africa
Category and Expertise: Landscape|Deeper Perspective, Non-Professional


Entry Description: On 16 August 2012, 34 Striking Miners were killed by the police on public land between a hillock, Wonderkop, and the buildings of a Platinum Mining company, Lonmin Plc. How does one photograph this event without showing the dead or poor and disenfranchised black bodies? What can the landscape tell us about the history, the people and what lies beneath the crust of the earth? Both the precious minerals and the precious bones and spirits of the ancestors are breathing and beckoning to be released, to have a chance to tell their histories. This is the Marikana Moment, the moment when the power of the people destabilised centuries of African Struggle.

Story: On 16 August 2012, 34 Striking Miners were killed by the police on public land between a hillock, Wonderkop, and the buildings of a Platinum Mining company, Lonmin Plc. How does one photograph this event without showing the dead or poor and disenfranchised black bodies? What can the landscape tell us about the history, the people and what lies beneath the crust of the earth? Both the precious minerals and the precious bones and spirits of the ancestors are breathing and beckoning to be released, to have a chance to tell their histories. This is the Marikana Moment, the moment when the power of the people destabilised centuries of African Struggle. A simple demand for a decent wage from this particular mining company, threatened a set of labour relations established more than a century before on the gold mines of Johannesburg, South Africa, which protected the mining companies and pressurised the relationship of the labour unions with the mining companies and its profits. A traumatised Mineworker says: Even when I see it on TV, I still get scared because I could not sleep the days following the incident …with Zuma in power….but we are still oppressed and abused”. This massacre did not end the strike, but the mining company agreed to talk and large increases in pay was conceded. The workers greeted the announcement as a victory on the 18th of September 2012. A wave of rank-and-file committee led strikes spread from platinum mines to gold and other mineral mines across the region. The history of violence in South Africa runs a deep parallel to the history of photography, concurrently documenting, inhabiting and perpetrating violence. Photography did not only record the violence of the rolling of South African history but presented the colonial gaze through representational photographic tropes and racialistic conventions like anthropological or ethnic studies which presented an accepted space that outlined specific relations between the colonizers and the colonised, between those who are in power, and those who are not. As a photographer, I work within this photographic tradition, but I aim to expand this vocabulary, to open up the language of image-making, to create a blank page, in a sense, which can be read, written upon, unravelled and even destroyed. To create images that allow the viewer to inscribe their own story onto the landscape, the wall, the page, the object, the photographic image. This series of landscape images invites you to write yourself into its history, write your own history on its surface, ask about the tectonic plates, the architectonic structures, the human pathways and the highways alike and lose yourself in the footpaths of children, and time, tracing, with your finger, rivers, bridges and nurse a bleeding toe. This makes the tragedy, tragic. We have to undo the structures of power, the misuse and the abuse, and put our ears to the ground, and listen to the earth.

About the Artist:

TO BE COMPLETED