Freak show Afrikaners?


Photo © Nadine Hutton,


PhotoConversations: Freak show Afrikaners?

Huma and UCT Visual Archives co-hosted a provocative discussion about photographic portrayal of (white poor) Afrikaners in post-apartheid South Africa.

In the panel were curator and Michaelis lecturer, Andrew Lamprecht, University of Pretoria’s sociologist Irma du Plessis, acclaimed photographer Nadine Hutton, who shared her a personal account of photographing her mother, and Adam Haupt from UCT’s Film and Media Studies.

This is the second in a series of discussions on photography and practice called PhotoConversations/PhotoTalk, a collaboration between the UCT Visual Archives and HUMA.

Afrikaners feature prominently in the South African photographic record. During apartheid, photographers variously depicted Afrikaners as naïve nationalists akin to American pioneers (Bourke-White 1949), as welfare recipients threatening the narrative of white superiority (Constance Stuart Larrabee 1947-9), as subjects inspiring “liking, revulsion and fear” (Goldblatt 1975, 2006) and as monstrous “metaphor(s) for the state of being a white South African under apartheid”* (Roger Ballen 1993, 1994).

In post-apartheid South Africa, photographers have been particularly fascinated by poor Afrikaners. Photographers like Finbarr O’Reilly (“Coronation Park”), Susanne Schleyer and Michael Stephan (“Bitter fruit”), Jodi Burch (“Poor Boers”), Pierre Crocquette (“Enter Exit”) and Nadine Hutton (“I have fallen”) have trained their lenses on Afrikaners marginalised, impoverished and despised in a new democracy. Although many have taken particular care to retain the dignity of their subjects, they do so against a wider visual aesthetic that seems to favour the bizarre, the monstrous and the “freeky” (Die Antwoord).

Please join us as we debate whether the Afrikaner has become an inadvertent freak show in the process.

Listen here to the discussion that took place at the Anatomy Lecture Theatre, Old Medical School,

Hiddingh Campus University of Cape Town