A collective community for KwaZulu-Natal photo makers

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The Contemporary Archive Project (CAP) is an organisation based in Durban, South Africa, working as a collective to safeguard and build an archive of contemporary work made in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province. Through incubation programmes, and creating a network for local image makers, CAP is creating community whilst building an archive of work that tells the stories of people and a place sometimes overlooked.

Creator

Niamh Walsh-Vorster

Location

Durban, South Africa

Date

Nov. 1, 2022

southafrica

Conceptualised in 2020 during the National South African Lockdown, co-founders, Niamh Walsh-Vorster and Paulo Menezes, initiated CAP as a space for the two Durban photographers initially to get together and create new work.

Thobans-Ks-incubator-project

Post photowalk lunch (left to right): Sibusiso Nzimande, Thabiso Ngobeni, Thobani K, Niamh Walsh-Vorster, Paulo Menezes, Menzi Dlamini, Nokulunga Ngubane, Lindokuhle Ndlovu and Manelisi Nene at Little Gujarat Restaurant, Prince Edward St, Durban Central.

Date: 2022
Location: Durban, South Africa, 2022

The CAP

Their background experience with the Durban Centre for Photography (DCP) informed much of the pair's thinking, and the desire to broaden the circle was realised. Their mission to continue the legacy work learnt at the DCP became a core value in CAP’s work, and so the shaping of CAP as a space for critical thinking through incubation and conversations became the organisation's foundation.

In order to build an archive of contemporary photography, CAP trains photographers to develop industry-level practices while archiving, cataloguing and preserving digital photographic files. The organisation also seeks out photography work to safeguard on its platforms. This includes a methodology centred on detailed captions, written narratives and image metadata that are added to each photograph and photo story. 

Portrait of photographer Busani Gcabashe at Inanda

Portrait of photographer Busani Gcabashe at Inanda Dam on a CAP outing.

Date: 2022
Photographer: Niamh Walsh-Vorster
Location: KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Make photos, don't take

CAP embraces image-making as a conscientised and ethical practice. This means, documenting with consent, in-depth research and fact-checking, and engaging persons or topics without prejudice. 

Contemporary Archive Project is a school of thought that teaches “making” photos instead of “taking” photos*, which is a more ethical, decolonised approach to photography. 

These are teachings and methodologies inspired by Durban Centre for Photography, under Peter Mckenzie’s mentorship, and Market Photo Workshop.

quote icon

Contemporary Archive Project is a school of thought that teaches “making” photos instead of “taking” photos, which is a more ethical, decolonised approach to photography.

Niamh Walsh-Vorster
Writer, independent photographer and creative producer

Let's have a chat!

Leave us a message or schedule a meeting with someone from our team. Join us in making fairness in photography and ethical storytelling the new normal!

Contact us
post-photowalk-lunch

Post photowalk lunch (left to right): Sibusiso Nzimande, Thabiso Ngobeni, Thobani K, Niamh Walsh-Vorster, Paulo Menezes, Menzi Dlamini, Nokulunga Ngubane, Lindokuhle Ndlovu and Manelisi Nene at Little Gujarat Restaurant, Prince Edward St, Durban Central.

Date: 2022
Location: Durban, South Africa, 2022

Creating Community

Today, CAP has grown to a humble collective of community members and peripheral photographer friends, whose contemporary photographic archives of Durban and its surroundings are now part of the online collection that will be curated on CAP’s website, and in future exhibitions and educational showcases. 

Photographer’s Thobani K, Lindokuhle Ndlovu, Paulo Menezes, Niamh Walsh-Vorster and Sibusiso Nzimande were part of the first incubator programme conducted by CAP, investigating the theme of water. The final collective body of work used the themes of water as a starting point, which touched on heritage, identity, race and land. Juxtaposed to each other, the photographs of the province offer a glimpse into the multifaceted experience of KwaZulu-Natal, from the inner city, to peri-urban and rural spaces. 

KZN-April-floods

Date: April 2022
Photographer: Lindokuhle Ndlovu
Location: Inanda Amaoti area, South Africa

Building the Archive

The archive that continues to grow includes the work of Mandisa Buthelezi, Wandile Msomi, Themba Mbuyisa, Andre Swart, and Manelisi Nene. The hope is through more incubator programmes, Durban photographers can spend time developing new work that is made consciously and with care.

One body of work to note in particular is Thobani K’s, which investigated the water issues in the area of Eskhebeni, Inanda (where he lives and grew up), as well as connecting his family’s personal history with the space. Much of the organisation's ethos is to promote a photographer's own stories, and dismantle The Outsider gaze, which Thobani’s work epitomises.

www.contemporaryarchiveproject.com

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