WITH VIDEO: Celebrated photographer Jodi Bieber brings her work to Johannesburg

by Zelmarie Goosen and Tracey Ruff

Jodi Bieber has travelled the world sharing her photojournalism work but has hardly exhibited in her native country. Tonight she opens an exhibition at the Wits Arts Museum in Johannesburg entitled Between Darkness and Light.

“I’ve hardly exhibited my work in South Africa, so it’s a real treat for me,” says Bieber in an exclusive interview with Wits Vuvuzela.

The photographer is internationally renowned for her photograph of Bibi Aisha – an Afghan woman who had her nose and ears severed off, and left for dead, by her husband and his family. Bieber won the World Press Photo Award in 2010 for that photograph.

VIDEO: Watch as Jodi Bieber speaks about her latest photographic exhibition in the Wits Arts Museum. 


Shedding light on the darkness

Between Darkness and Light is an exhibition of Bieber’s selected works from 1994 to 2011. She describes her collection, which includes 10 projects, as “moving between darkness and light”.

“My first body of works, are much darker than the recent bodies of work.”

She attributes this “psychological” darkness to a time of loss and sorrow in the early 1990s when she started working for The Star newspaper. This difficult period in her life led her to “delving into things that were a little bit dark, like the youth living on the fringes of society”.

Jodi speaks passionately about why she photographs the things she does. “I think the most important thing for me is that photography is something that I can communicate the way I feel about things in society,” she says.

“It’s [photography] a way I can tell you the way (sic) I’m thinking about the world”.

Bieber also has an exhibition on at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg which challenges conventional stereotypes of men linked to power, corruption and violence.

The Between Darkness and Light Exhibition runs from April, 16 to July, 20 at the Wits Arts Museum.

See photos of the opening of the exhibition by clicking on the link below:



From brutality to beauty

Picture: Jay Caboz

HE was beaten and his nose was broken by a policeman’s baton. He was shot at 17 times. He was jailed and kept in solitary confinement for 560 days.  But that did not stop world-famous photo-journalist Peter Magubane from documenting the atrocities of the apartheid regime.  “My pictures come first, before my life,” Magubane said.

Speaking to Wits journalism students a day after World Press Freedom Day, Magubane described the clever methods he used to get around apartheid-era restrictions on the media. He had the students in stitches when he told them how he hid his small Laica camera in a hollowed-out half loaf of bread and an empty milk carton to take photos of a women’s protest in Zeerust.

“If I have to steal a picture, I will steal a picture,” he said.  Magubane is famous for the photos he took for Drum magazine starting in the 1950s. His iconic pictures of the June 16 uprising helped to alert the international community to the oppression under the Nationalist government.  “The entire world looked upon Drum magazine to know what was happening in South Africa,” he said.

Nelson Mandela’s official photographer

Magubane, who was also Nelson Mandela’s official photographer during the transition to democracy, urged the aspiring journalists to continue to use the media as a force for change.  “The struggle is still on … [Even] with democracy, there is still a lot that is happening that is unacceptable … People are still poor. We still have a lot of imbalances.”  Magubane displayed a remarkable lack of bitterness despite everything he endured under apartheid.

But now he focuses on beauty, not brutality. He said his current projects include capturing Soweto sunsets.  “I am in love with the sun setting in Soweto. It’s like seeing a beautiful woman every day. Watch the sun when it sets … So much peace. No blood. No death …”