Modern Perspectives on Ernest Cole with Farren van Wyk

Discover the current exhibition House of Bondage by Ernest Cole through the eyes of photographer Farren van Wyk. As part of the series Modern Perspectives, Farren will share her interpretations of Ernest Cole's powerful work that sought to raise awareness and inspire change around issues of race, inequality, and social justice. 

Raquel & Cindy © Farren van Wyk, courtesy of the artist.
Marck-Anthony's Waves © Farren van Wyk, courtesy of the artist.
Alexander © Farren van Wyk, courtesy of the artist.

Farren van Wyk

Farren van Wyk's artistic practice explores themes of identity, heritage, and colonialism, much like Ernest Cole, who was born in the apartheid era in Southern Africa and documented the harsh realities of Black South Africans. His photographs depicted the daily struggles and injustices faced by Black South Africans, highlighting the dehumanizing effects of apartheid on their lives.

Similarly, van Wyk's work explores the complexities of colonialism, apartheid, and racial identity in South Africa, but from a more personal perspective. Like Ernest Cole, Wyk was born during the final years of the apartheid era in Southern Africa and moved to The Netherlands at the age of six. By grappling with her own mixed heritage and identity, van Wyk sheds light on the ways in which race and ethnicity continue to shape individual experiences and perceptions in post-apartheid South Africa. Both photographers explored complex issues of identity and heritage and challenged viewers to confront uncomfortable truths about the past and present. Through their work, they sought to inspire change and offer glimpses of hope for a more just future. Despite being from different times and places, their photography reminds us of the ongoing struggle for racial equality and social justice. 

Our Anthropological Golden Era © Farren van Wyk, courtesy of the artist.

About the exhibition

Foam proudly presents an overview of the work of South African photographer Ernest Cole. The photographer is celebrated for his tireless documentation of Black lives in South Africa under apartheid: a regime of institutionalised racial segregation that was in effect from 1948 to the early 1990s. The exhibition includes parts of his archive, which had long been considered lost.

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South Africa, 1960s © Ernest Cole/Magnum Photos.

This exhibition was made in collaboration with the Ernest Cole Family Trust and Magnum Photos.

The exhibition opens in tandem with the launch of two volumes published by Aperture: the first a republication of House of Bondage, the second presenting the US work for the first time in history.

Two people looking at a work of Ernest Cole

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Modern Perspectives on Ernest Cole with Farren van Wyk