Welkom in South Africa
© Ad van Denderen
In early 1990 Van Denderen first visited the gold-mining town of Welkom in South Africa to record life under apartheid. Although Mandela had already been released from prison on 11th February 1990 this was not apparent in (Orange) Free State. Tensions could be felt as well as seen. It was dangerous in the mines: not only did whites kill blacks but blacks were also violent amongst themselves.
The inhabitants of Welkom, a well-organised mediocre town, were not keen to change their routines. The majority all lead the same life: go to school, work in the mines, buy a house once they have enough savings and drive around in a Toyota Corolla.
In the township Thabong, that was right next to Welkom, the atmosphere was dismal: unemployment, poverty and, there too, violence.
Van Denderen's stay in Welkom gave rise to the book of photographs ‘Welkom in Suid Afrika’. For the whole project, he was nominated for the ICI Photography Award in London.
“The photographs by Ad van Denderen inspire silence, curiosity – and ultimately a feeling of shame. You thought you knew the subject, but had never before looked as closely as he did. In spite of the uncompromising quality of this black-and-white medium, his visual message is extraordinary for its subtle shades of meaning.”
Nominator: Els Barents, Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst, The Hague. Former director of photography museum Huis Marseille
publication: Welkom in Suid-Afrika