In the early 1990s Dutch photographer Ad van Denderen and journalist Margalith Kleijwegt travelled to Welkom, a small mining town in South Africa, to document the last days of apartheid. The growing tensions between the white and the black community often lead to unrest. The city was seen as an example of how things could go wrong during the process of change. After multiple visits, the story was published in Vrij Nederland magazine and in the critically acclaimed photo book Welkom in Suid-Afrika in 1991.

25 years later, the South African photographer Lebohang Tlali reached out to van Denderen with a remarkable request. Tlali grew up in Welkom’s neighbouring township Thabong, and discovered Welkom in Suid-Afrika while studying in Cape Town. The book was a revelation to him: for the first time Tlali could see how the white community lived during apartheid. At the same time, the photos taken in Thabong provided a feeling of recognition. In his email to van Denderen, Tlali wrote: ‘These photos were taken during a critical period in the history of South Africa. I was only twelve at the time, and there was a lot of uncertainty. I am repeatedly drawn to your book, which somehow still reflects today’s reality of Welkom and South Africa.’ Tlali had a clear goal in mind: he wanted to take van Denderen’s photographs back to where they were taken – and never seen before.

To think about the future, one must know the past. Taking this notion as a starting point, Tlali, van Denderen, and Paradox initiated Welkom Today: a multivocal photography project that will be launched in the spring of 2019. Tlali’s dream to bring the photographs back to Welkom’s community was realised in the fall of 2017. During that time, Tlali and van Denderen gave a series of photography workshops at three high schools in Welkom and Thabong. Using photography to reflect on their identity, the young ‘born free’ students became empowered participants in the project. The collaborative outcome will be part of a book, a travelling exhibition, and an educational programme that colour the post-apartheid period from inside out.

Welkom Today combines old and new photographs by van Denderen, Tlali and their students, images from family albums and newspaper archives, as well as stories by by Kleijwegt. In a self-reflexive, non-hierarchical way, the project opens up to multiple histories and perspectives, across different generations and backgrounds.

Welkom Today is a Paradox production in collaboration with the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. The exhibition is curated by Anne Ruygt and Bas Vroege in close collaboration with the photographers. Together with CBK Zuidoost, Paradox is developing a manifestation in the Bijlmer area of Amsterdam and an educational programme for Amsterdam secondary schools around the theme of separated worlds.

In parallel with the exhibition, Paradox, Atlas Contact and Kehrer Verlag are publishing a photo book under the same name, with stories by Margalith Kleijwegt and design by Jeremy Jansen.

Welkom Today is supported by the Mondriaan Fund, DutchCulture, VSBfonds, Prince Bernhard Culture Fund, Amsterdam Fund for the Arts, Fonds 21, municipality of Amsterdam, district Zuidoost, Fonds Anna Cornelis, Dutch Fund for Journalism Projects and private sponsors Martijn Kleijwegt, Liesbeth Bachrach and anonymous donors.

Authors

Ad van DenderenAd van Denderen (1943, The Netherlands) has worked as a photographer for Vrij NederlandStern, NRC Handelsblad, GEO and The Independent magazine, among others. He has received a number of prestigious prizes for his work, including the Visa d’Or at the international photo festival Visa pour l’Image in Perpignan in 2001 and The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts’ (Fonds BKVB) oeuvre prize in 2007/2008. Go No Go, his book on migration in Europe, based on 13 years of work, was published by Actes Sud, Mets & Schilt, Lunwerg Editores, Edition Braus and Paradox in 2003. For the 2008 SteidlMack/Paradox publication So Blue So Blue, Van Denderen photographed the 17 countries around the Mediterranean Sea. Earlier publications include Peace in The Holy Land, a book about Palestine (1997) andWelkom in Suid-Afrika, about apartheid (1991). Ad van Denderen is a member of VU agency, Paris.

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Lebohang TlaliLebohang Tlali (b. 1978, South Africa) is a photographer and cultural entrepreneur born in Welkom. After his Fine Art studies at the Michaelis School of Art (University of Cape Town) he worked as a freelance photographer and gained experience as a project manager for art galleries such as Stevenson, Park West and cultural non-profits among which Cape Africa Platform and VANSA (Visual Arts Network of South Africa). While growing up during apartheid in the township of Thabong, Tlali developed a strong appreciation for the value of education. It inspired him to become a graduate from Kaospilots, an alternative business school that specialises in value based entrepreneurship and creative social innovation in Switzerland. His projects focus on youth empowerment and use of photography as a tool to make a positive impact on the community and their environment.

Margalith KleijwegtMargalith Kleijwegt (1951) is a Dutch independent publicist. She became well known for her socially relevant articles in the weekly Vrij Nederland en De Groene Amsterdammer. Her first book, Invisible parents, parents, the neighbourhood of Mohammed B, about the lives and dilemmas of students and their parents at a multi-cultural school in Amsterdam, became a bestseller. In 2015 she published 2 worlds, 2 realities, a report about polarization in the class room. The report had a great impact: the House of Representatives organized a special hearing to discuss the findings of Kleijwegt.

Platforms

Acclimatization-room. New miners are tested whether they can stand the underground heat or not, Welkom, South Africa, 1990
Acclimatization-room. New miners are tested whether they can stand the underground heat or not, Welkom, South Africa, 1990
© Ad van Denderen
Welkom park, 2018
Welkom park, 2018
© Ad van Denderen
Book cover Welkom in Suid-Afrika
Book cover Welkom in Suid-Afrika
© Ad van Denderen
Afrikaner grammar school, Welkom, South-Africa, 1990
Afrikaner grammar school, Welkom, South-Africa, 1990
© Ad van Denderen
 Nkoane Road, Thabong, South-Africa, ca. 2002
Nkoane Road, Thabong, South-Africa, ca. 2002
© Lebohang Tlali
The maid of Blikkies Blignout, leader of AWB in Welkom, South Africa, 1990
The maid of Blikkies Blignout, leader of AWB in Welkom, South Africa, 1990
© Ad Van Denderen
Land occupation on former Harmony mine site, Welkom, 2018
Land occupation on former Harmony mine site, Welkom, 2018
© Ad van Denderen
Childeren playing on the streets of Thabong, South-Africa, ca. 1999
Childeren playing on the streets of Thabong, South-Africa, ca. 1999
© Lebohang Tlali
Miner on his way to Thabong, 1990
Miner on his way to Thabong, 1990
© Ad van Denderen
Portrait of Patricia Tlhone in Thabong, 1988
Portrait of Patricia Tlhone in Thabong, 1988
© Aubuti Tau
Blake family archive, Wendy Blake and her cousin Linda, c. 1991
Blake family archive, Wendy Blake and her cousin Linda, c. 1991
workshop participant Teto High, 2017
workshop participant Teto High, 2017
© Thabo Modikeng
Moses Tlali, 2018
Moses Tlali, 2018
© Lebohang Tlali
Linkie Tlali, 2018
Linkie Tlali, 2018
© Lebohang Tlali
Mooi West, Welkom, 1990
Mooi West, Welkom, 1990
© Ad van Denderen
Lerato Motsatse, 2018
Lerato Motsatse, 2018
© Lebohang Tlali
Vista newspaper archive, Welkom, 1950s
Vista newspaper archive, Welkom, 1950s
Welkom centrum, 2017
Welkom centrum, 2017
© Ad van Denderen
© Nomakhosi Nyamani

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, CBK Zuidoost/Kwaku Summer Festival

Ad van Denderen is one of the key Dutch photographers in the collection of the Stedelijk. Since the 1980s the museum has acquired photographs from several of his series, including Welkom in Suid-Afrika.

Van Denderen’s work belongs to the tradition of critical documentary photography. His self-reflexive position represents a significant development in the contemporary arts. In the postcolonial era more and more artists started to question their position as image-makers. The issue of representation in photography, in this case addressed by Lebohang Tlali, is one of the main themes in the exhibition at the Stedelijk.

A great deal of emphasis will be on the meeting and the collaboration between Van Denderen and Tlali, and their artistic view on the project. The show opens with a selection of black-and-white photographs by Van Denderen from the 1990s, which Tlali brought back to Welkom in 2017. They will appear on a billboard similar to the makeshift model that was used in front of the town hall in Welkom, October 2017. This symbolic act forms the starting point of the exhibition. The original book from 1991 will be reproduced in the form of wallpaper, revealing the socio-political changes and major shift in artistic approach.

In conjunction with the educational programme, Paradox and CBK Zuidoost will organize an outdoor exhibition in the Bijlmer district in the summer of 2019. The focus of this presentation will be on current issues such as segregation, inclusivity and belonging in today’s society. Whereas the Stedelijk show concentrates on the artistic development of Tlali and Van Denderen, the outdoor exhibition starts from the viewpoint of young adolescents.

The exhibition in the Bijlmer will be activated by a public programme, with photo sessions, talks, performances and a great deal of room for debate. At Kwaku, a shipping container would serve as a portrait studio to connect festival visitors to the project. Workshop participants will be actively involved in developing the activities and will act as photographers at the festival.

  • 18.05.201913.10.2019Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (NL)

Cover Welkom Today, English edition
Cover Welkom Today, English edition
Cover image: Lebohang Tlali
Cover Welkom Today, Dutch edition
Cover Welkom Today, Dutch edition
Cover image: Ad van Denderen
Spread from the photo book Welkom Today, English edition
Spread from the photo book Welkom Today, English edition
Spread from the photo book Welkom Today, English edition
Spread from the photo book Welkom Today, English edition
Spread from the photo book Welkom Today, English edition
Spread from the photo book Welkom Today, English edition
Spread from the photo book Welkom Today, English edition
Spread from the photo book Welkom Today, English edition
Spread from the photo book Welkom Today, English edition
Spread from the photo book Welkom Today, English edition
Spread from the photo book Welkom Today, English edition
Spread from the photo book Welkom Today, English edition
Spread from the photo book Welkom Today, English edition
Spread from the photo book Welkom Today, English edition

Welkom Today

Welkom Today is characterized by a multitude of voices, perspectives and image sources. The book narrates the story of Welkom and Thabong’s communities, against the backdrop of South Africa’s socio-political history and current reality.

Another thread is the critical assessment made by Lebohang Tlali and the artistic development of Ad van Denderen, which signals a fundamental change in documentary photography: instead of speaking about or on behalf of a subject, more and more contemporary photographers focus on speaking with the community they portray. To bring about these different layers and meanings of the project, the book includes eight chapters about young inhabitants and their families (written by Margalith Kleijwegt) and seven thematic chapters. These two types of chapters will be visually distinct. Each type offers a different reading and feel.

Welkom Today will be co-published with the renowned publishing house of Atlas Contact and launched in May 2019, coinciding with the premiere of the exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, the leading museum for modern and contemporary art in the Netherlands.

The English edition of Welkom Today will be published by Kehrer Verlag.

  • Photography:

    Ad van Denderen, Lebogang Tlali
    Editing:

    Ad van Denderen, Anne Ruygt, Bas Vroege
    Texts: Margalith Kleijwegt
    Design: Jeremy Jansen
    Softcover ca. 17 x 24 cm
    304 pages: 70 color and 80 b/w illustrations
    Publisher Dutch edition: Atlas Contact

    ISBN: 978-90-828708-1-7

    Publisher English edition: Kehrer Verlag

    ISBN: 978-90-828708-2-4

Ad van Denderen and Lebo Tlali giving their first workshop to the students of Welkom.
Ad van Denderen and Lebo Tlali giving their first workshop to the students of Welkom.
© Kaat Celis
Students practicing with the  camera.
Students practicing with the camera.
© Kaat Celis
Students having a look at Ad van Denderens photobook 'Welkom in Suid-Afrika'.
Students having a look at Ad van Denderens photobook 'Welkom in Suid-Afrika'.
© Kaat Celis
Opening of the exhibition with work of the students from three schools in Welkom.
Opening of the exhibition with work of the students from three schools in Welkom.
© Kaat Celis
Students posing with their photographs taken during the workshops.
Students posing with their photographs taken during the workshops.
© Kaat Celis
Every student gets his or her own diploma, handed out by Ad and Lebo.
Every student gets his or her own diploma, handed out by Ad and Lebo.
© Kaat Celis
Students, family, friends and teachers at the opening of the exhibition.
Students, family, friends and teachers at the opening of the exhibition.
© Kaat Celis
Proud students with their photography diploma.
Proud students with their photography diploma.
© Kaat Celis
A student with her photos, themed 'Who am I in 2017?'
A student with her photos, themed 'Who am I in 2017?'
© Kaat Celis
Ad van Denderen and some students at the exhibition.
Ad van Denderen and some students at the exhibition.
A festive Closing Party in the exhibition with of course some dancing.
A festive Closing Party in the exhibition with of course some dancing.
'I choose this photo because it makes me happy the way my little brother and my little sister like to watch the videos of Simbar Cartoons.'
'I choose this photo because it makes me happy the way my little brother and my little sister like to watch the videos of Simbar Cartoons.'
Photo: Malungane Lucas, Teto High School
'I took this picture in Manny's Bridge. Where someone was mugged under that bridge. Here is a gangster that sit here during the day. Waiting for these who walk through the bridge so they can rob their money, phone and other things. When I took this picture I was under that bridge.'
'I took this picture in Manny's Bridge. Where someone was mugged under that bridge. Here is a gangster that sit here during the day. Waiting for these who walk through the bridge so they can rob their money, phone and other things. When I took this picture I was under that bridge.'
Photo: Ngomane Collen, Teto High School
'This is my bedroom. When I am tired, I sleep and pray. It is my private room.'
'This is my bedroom. When I am tired, I sleep and pray. It is my private room.'
Photo: Modikeng Thabo, Teto High School
'This is my little brother, I just asked him to pose because I felt like I need to have a photo of him.'
'This is my little brother, I just asked him to pose because I felt like I need to have a photo of him.'
Photo: Monokoane Nthoto, Teto High School
'People might say you don't belong here, but if it makes you happy, you're exactly where you're supposed to be.
'People might say you don't belong here, but if it makes you happy, you're exactly where you're supposed to be. "Why fit in when you were born to stand out."'
Photo: Genevieve de Villiers, Goudveld Hoërskool
'The piano. This was my grandmothers (89) and she got it when she was 8. She passed it on to me when I was 8 years old.'
'The piano. This was my grandmothers (89) and she got it when she was 8. She passed it on to me when I was 8 years old.'
Photo: Jana Enslin, Goudveld Hoërskool
'This is my desk and workspace. On the wall and in the window sill are items that show who I am. They also lend character to the room, that would otherwise be bland.'
'This is my desk and workspace. On the wall and in the window sill are items that show who I am. They also lend character to the room, that would otherwise be bland.'
Photo: Robert Bristow, Welkom Gimnasium
'The goldrush in Welkom saw the birth of some mines. Some stayed and some ran dry and were shut down. They died. All that remains is their mine hills.
'The goldrush in Welkom saw the birth of some mines. Some stayed and some ran dry and were shut down. They died. All that remains is their mine hills.
Photo: Lerato Motsatse, Welkom Gimnasium

Workshops at schools in Welkom and in Amsterdam

In the fall of 2017 Ad van Denderen, Lebohang Tlali and Paradox organised a series of workshops at three very different high schools: Teto High in the township of Thabong; Welkom Gimnasium, a former white school, now seventy percent black; and Goudveld Hoër, an Afrikaner school, predominantly white.

The workshop program was not merely intended to be educational. It also played a pivotal role in the production of the content of Welkom Today. In the workshops the young people represented themselves, offering a valuable insight into their personal lives, experiences and viewpoints. It also opened the doors to their family albums and oral histories, thus preserving and contributing to the cultural heritage of a poorly documented community.

Photography was used as a tool to stimulate social awareness, to learn about yourself by documenting your daily surroundings, and to imagine your future by visualising your hopes and dreams. Photography broadend the students’ horizons and led to new encounters and exchanges. ‘I used to be ashamed of the township of Thabong. This mess everywhere. But when I walk around with my camera, I see a certain beauty in it. I even feel proud’. More than a year after the workshops, some students are still active photographers, sharing their images on Instagram.

Based on the 2017 Welkom/Thabong programme, Paradox launches a new series of workshops at two schools in Amsterdam in 2019, in collaboration with partners Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and CBK Zuidoost.

The programme’s theme is ‘separate worlds’, bringing the subject matter of Welkom Today close to home. Even though the situation in the Netherlands is incomparable to South Africa’s apartheid history and current reality, communities tend to drift apart in today’s Amsterdam. This workshop programme tries to bring together a few of those worlds: the city districts Zuid and Zuidoost that each have their own demographic, atmosphere and identity.

The Welkom Today workshops in April and May enables the inclusion of the outcome in a free newspaper and an outdoor exhibition in Zuidoost. In doing so, Welkom Today brings together different generations and lived experiences, from the past and present, here and there.

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In the media

  • Terug naar Welkom

    During the second trip to Welkom, journalist Margalith Kleijwegt kept a blog for the Dutch magazine De Groene Amsterdammer. Margalith joined Ad van Denderen in 1990 to carry out Ad’s photo project Welkom in Suid-Afrika. She wrote about her experiences of Welkom anno 2017 in a blog (in Dutch).

    Margalith Kleijwegt, De Groene Amsterdammer, October 2017 Read more »
  • Hoe een Nederlandse fotograaf Zuid-Afrikaanse kinderen wil leren over de apartheid

    How a Dutch photographer wants to teach South-African children about apartheid

    Karolien Knols, De Volkskrant, 13 March 2017 Read more »
  • Photography project invests in leaners

    Vista, 19 October 2017
  • Terug naar Welkom: 'Wij kennen elkaar niet.'

    Back to Welkom: 'We don't know eachother.'

    Margalith Kleijwegt, De Groene Amsterdammer, 27 April 2017 Read more »

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