South African Apartheid insanity in pictures: Ernest Cole

I went recently to the Johannesburg Art Gallery to see the current Ernest Cole exhibition. I didn’t know Cole before seeing the exhibition, and I caught myself thinking that i should have known him earlier. His work presented at the Joburg gallery gives you an disturbing portrait of what was life like during the apartheid in South Africa. It made me realize how cruel it would have been to live under this segregation and its inequalities.

During group medical examination the nude men are herded through a string of doctor’s offices.

Ernest Cole has published only one book of his work: House of Bondage, but he is still regarded has one of the most influencial photographer of South Africa. He was banned from the country after its publication and died in exile.

For more info: Art South Africa

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Caroline,

    I’ve never been to this gallery. I just did the Apartheid Museum, when in Johannesburg. A moving and profoundly disturbing experience. Was Ernest Cole openly political in his work? Or was he contracted by the regime to make photos of the apartheid everyday situation?

    Oh, and by the way, I’m sure people in Memefest ( would be interested in this conversation…


    1. carotagn says:

      HI Fred!

      This gallery is great, and most of the exhibitions are free, which makes it better! I also went to apartheid museum last year, and had a disturbing visit as me and my boyfriend had to go through seperate entrances. (me being classified as coloured and my boyfriend as white.)

      To answer your question Ernest Cole was definitely political in his work. I read in the exhibition that his purpose was definitely to show the cruelty of the regime. He took most of his pictures by sneeking into mines or other spaces.

      And yes, I did post the thing on Memefest. 😉

      Thanks for your comment.


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