George Mahashe, a PhD Candidate with the Centre for Curating the Archive (CCA) and the Archive and Public Culture Initiative (APC) has been announced as the Joint winner, together with Joana Choumali, of the 2016 Fourthwall Books Photobook Award.
The award is the first of its kind in Africa, aimed at promoting the work of new and established photographers on the continent. It is awarded to photographers who have produced an excellent body of work suited to publication in book format.
The body of work selected for publication is based on Mahashe’s exhibition Gae Lebowa, produced between 2006 and 2009, and presented at the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) in 2010. In Gae Lebowa Mahashe begins to explore the notion of home, both metaphorically and physically as he traveled through the former Bantustan of Lebowa and the surrounding Bantustans, now collectively called the Limpopo province, focusing particularly on Bolobedu. In the same breath the work considers the potency of the idea of ‘going home’ as a way of gaining a situated knowledge lacking in contemporary historiography. Gae Lebowa provides some insights into the complicated relationship between “indigenous” archives and colonial history.
Gae Lebowa is the genesis of a series of researches and exhibitions now collectively referred to as Ma Bare Bare–things people say, loosely referring to rumor, but emphasizing a subjected community’s criticism of the expert authority subjecting them. These series are centered on Mahashe’s fascination with the recorded imagining by, and imaginings of Balobedu (included his own) over the last 200 years.