Black Photo Libraries is a new research collection on South African photography by Market Photo Workshop, presented in partnership with the Mail and Guardian and supported by the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences. The ‘libraries’ presented here take the form of interviews, personal essays, eulogies, poetry, reviews, and catalogue, by veteran photographers, their family members, and South African writers. Through these diverse forms of narration, the book draws attention to understudied histories of the press in South Africa through the testimonies of black photojournalists who worked for newspapers and magazines such as The World, The Rand Daily Mail, Sunday Express, and Drum Magazine. It also revisits the country’s resistance history in photography, through activist collectives such as Afrapix. The country’s collective past is remembered through iconic images by dedicated photographers, yet the struggle for compensation, copyright redress, and the visibility of black women’s historic role in photography continues. Black Photo Libraries reflects on the personal and political stakes of family and kinship, nation, and art, embodying the need to fight against forgetting. In gathering these voices, the collection contributes to a genealogy of black South African photography, cast against the long shadow of Apartheid in which photography surfaces, not as images, seen, but rather as visual histories spoken back into living memory.

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