Ad van Denderen WELKOM TODAY
Welkom Today
1990-1991, 2004 and 2017-2018

“Your book about Welkom, the gold-mining town of my childhood, transformed the way I see the world,” South African photographer Lebohang Tlali wrote to Ad van Denderen.

Together with writer Margalith Kleijwegt, Van Denderen had recorded daily life during the apartheid era in the book Welkom in Suid-Afrika (1991, Focus Publishing). Tlali, who grew up in the nearby township of Thabong, discovered the book at the art academy in Cape Town and found his own history documented on its pages. Recognising the emancipatory power of photography, he decided to make this medium his own.

In 2017, Tlali joins Van Denderen and Kleijwegt as they travel to Welkom and Thabong to record how life there has changed. They bring along Van Denderen’s old photos, which are for the first time shown in the place where they were taken, as part of a series of public exhibitions. They also give photography workshops in three secondary schools with quite different backgrounds and student populations. Even after the workshops, the pupils continue sending photos and sharing material from family photo albums with the authors.

In a visual narative of multiple voices, Welkom Today brings these images together with old and new photos by Ad van Denderen and Lebohang Tlali. Looking back through his archive, Van Denderen sees that he makes very different choices today and is more interested in raising questions than in making statements.

Margalith Kleijwegt recorded the stories of eight young inhabitants, including four pupils, who together represent the post-apartheid era in Welkom and Thabong. Although the past remains omnipresent, these young people from the born-free generation mainly want to look ahead.

The work of Welkom Today can be seen in 'Stedelijk Museum' in Amsterdam from 18th of May till 13 of October 2019.

Welkom | Vista archive | Photo
Welkom under construction, 1950s | Photo: Vista archive
Welkom | Photo | Schoolboys | Ad van Denderen
Schoolboys cycle past domistec workers, Mooi West, Welkom, 1990
Thabong | Patricia Tlhone | Photo | Ad van Denderen
Patricia Tlhone in her new dress, Thabong, 1988 | Photo: Aubuti Tau
Saturday night | Welkom | Photo | Ad van Denderen
Cruising on Saturday night at ‘hoefie’, Mooi East, Central Park, Welkom, 1991
Cafe | Thabong | Photo | Ad van Denderen
‘Shebeen’, illegaal cafe, Thabong, 1991
Photo | Thabong | Lebohang Tlali
Niece Linkie Tlali, Thabong, 2018 | Photo: Lebohang Tlali
Photo | Thabong | Lebohang Tlali
Matshidiso Tlali, Thabong, 2018 | Photo: Lebohang Tlali
Women | Mud Houses | Venter | Ad van Denderen
Women in front of mud houses at farmer Venter’s ‘plaas’, 1991
Shack number | Bronville | Ad van Denderen
Shack number 38.193, Bronville, 2017
Student | Photo | House | Welkom | Thabo Modikeng
‘This is my bedroom where I sleep and pray’, 2017 | Photo: Thabo Modikeng, student Teto Highschool
‘My friends and I on Valentine’s Day’, 2018 | Photo: Aaliyah Hoosen, student Welkom Gimnasium
Maid of Blikkies Blignaut | Welkom | Photo | Ad van Denderen
Maid of Blikkies Blignaut, leader of the AWB (Afrikaner Resistance Movement), Welkom, 1991
Selfportrait | Welkom | Nomakhosi Nyamani | Student Welkom Gimnasium
Selfportrait, 2017 | Photo: Nomakhosi Nyamani, student Welkom Gimnasium
Taxi stand | Welkom | Ad van Denderen
Taxi stand, Welkom town centre, 2017
Welkom | Blake family | Ad van Denderen
Wendy Blake and her cousin Linda, Welkom, 1990s | Blake family archive
Portrait of two men | Thabong | Mathebula Cessary family | Ad van Denderen
Portrait of two men, Thabong, 1990s | Mathebula Cessary family archive
Workers melon harvest | Welkom | Ad van Denderen
Workers during the melon harvest, 1991
Jan Bezuidenhout | farm Bonanza | Ad van Denderen
Jan Bezuidenhout and his daughter on their farm Bonanza, 2004