Grantee’s Photo Exhibit Presents Haunting Images Of Angola’s Past Tragedies

Grantees in this story

South African Photographer Jo Ractliffe, whose work is funded through Carnegie Corporation of New York’s grant to the University of Witswatersrand (South Africa), has launched an exhibition of photographs documenting the aftermath of the border war fought by South Africa in Angola throughout the 1970s and 80s.

Ractliffe’s first U.S. solo show will inaugurate the new Walther Collection exhibition space in the West Chelsea Arts Building in New York City on April 15, 2011 and will run through July 15, 2011.

Terras do Fim do Mundo (The Lands of the End of the World) showcases nearly 60 of Ractliffe’s evocative black-and-white landscapes, presenting haunting images that reflect past tragedies in the sweeping landscapes of present-day Angola.

Ractliffe is one of scores of young and mid-level black and female academics at Witswatersrand (Wits) who have received research grants via the Carnegie Corporation-funded program enabling them to pursue their research interests.  The grants available include options for time-off, study abroad or research funds for doctoral studies or project specific research.

Carnegie Corporation funds, which are allocated to support discrete projects like Ractliffe’s, are intended to transform the University’s culture to one in which all scholars and all perspectives are embraced.  Ratcliffe’s work has been described as pushing new boundaries in terms of creative outputs.

Alongside the research grants, Wits has a number of institutional culture projects aimed at student leadership development and institutional engagement on transformation. The Resident Equity Scholars’ Programme seeks to provide institutional platforms for debate and discussion.  It falls under the Carnegie Corporation-supported transformation work, which for example, enables the University to draw upon eminent local and international professionals, who are not necessarily “traditional academics.”

Nazeema Mohamed, Director of Transformation and Employment Equity at Wits and Hugo Canham, the Wits-Carnegie Project Manager explain that these scholars inject alternative perspectives into the more formal academic environment.

In addition to exhibitions by academics like Ractliffe, there are student-led transformation initiatives which have included the production of three plays, Hayani, ID Pending & Born in the RSA (a 1980s retrospective), which engaged students on issues of identity and values in a new democracy.