ART FIRST PROEJCTS
As the Grass Grows / Marking Time
Photographs from post-apartheid South Africa
3 September – 4 October, 2015
Williams’ award winning photographs offer a compelling view of post-apartheid South Africa. As the Grass Grows is a collection of portraits of the first generation born after the end of apartheid – eligible and free to vote in the 2014 elections. Nicknamed ‘Born Frees’ their life stories convey the paradox of the aspirations of young South Africans, and the soaring unemployment rate and shockingly imploded school education system - revealed as being the worst out of 148 countries surveyed in a World Economic Forum report.
Marking Time is focused on unfinished, abandoned, re-imagined and re-invented structures within a swiftly shifting South African landscape. These, suggest Williams, reflect the ‘state of the nation’. The brevity of the captions captures the reality of a society in a state of impermanence and incompleteness. Using a square format and bleached light, the tonal images such as shared electricity supply poles, football pitches, old farm entrances near expanding townships, are familiar, or not – depending on who’s looking.
Between 1989 and 1994 Williams covered South Africa’s transition to democracy for Reuters and other news organizations, since when he has produced a distinctive and contemporary body of work.
His work featured in the 2011 Figures and Fictions exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Apartheid and After at The Huis Marseille in Amsterdam (2014), and a series of images was showcased in The World Atlas of Street Photography published by Yale University Press and Thames and Hudson in 2014.