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press release Welkom Today

WELKOM TODAY - Ad van Denderen, Lebohang Tlali and Margalith Kleijwegt

Book by Atlas Contact/Kehrer Verlag/Paradox and exhibition at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

In the early 1990s the 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. 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.“ This email was the start of a remarkable collaboration.

To think about the future, one must know the past. Taking this notion as a starting point, Van Denderen, Tlali and Paradox initiated Welkom Today: a multivocal photography project including a book, travelling exhibition and educational programme.

Image: Ad van Denderen, Land occupation on former Harmony mine site, Welkom, 2018

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Exhibition Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam - 18 May /13 October 2019

Welkom Today is based on the idea that today’s documentary can no longer be told from a single, often outsider’s perspective. As a consequence old and new photographs by Van Denderen and Tlali are mixed with images from family albums, archival images and photographs made by students who participated in their Welkom and Thabong based workshops. The exhibition combines photography, video and text in a critical and engaging way. The eight family stories from the book, all told from the perspective of the younger (born-free) generation, offer a suprising look at South Africa’s turbulent recent history. One of the video installations shows the growing archive of the students who still share their photographs with each other in a WhatsApp chat. Welkom Today is about different ways of seeing, about adjusting one‘s gaze, and strives to bring separate worlds closer together.

In 2020 the Welkom Today exhibition will travel to the Oliewenhuis in Bloemfontein and Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg.

Image: Ad van Denderen, Mooi West, Welkom, 1990

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Photobook co-published by Atlas Contact, Kehrer Verlag and Paradox

Like the exhibition in Stedelijk Museum, the photobook 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. With family stories by writer Margalith Kleijwegt, designed by Jeremy Jansen and published in a Dutch (Atlas Contact) and English edition (Kehrer Verlag). The book will be launched coninciding the opening of the exhibition at Stedelijk Museum on 18 May.

Image: Aubuti Tau, Portrait of Patricia Thlone in Thabong, 1988

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CBK Zuidoost and Kwaku Summer Festival - 13 July/4 August 2019

In 2017, 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.

Based on the Welkom/Thabong programme, Paradox and partners CBK Zuidoost and Stedelijk Museum launch a new series of workshops at two schools in Amsterdam about ‘separate worlds’. The results will be presented in a free newspaper, an outdoor exhibition and public programme in the Bijlmer district during the popular multicultural Kwaku Summer Festival. With photo sessions, talks, performances and much room for debate. The Amsterdam workshop participants will be actively involved in developing the activities and will act as photographers at the festival.

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English edition

The English edition Welkom Today - Revisiting South Africa is published by Kehrer Verlag and can be purchased through their website.
ISBN: 978-3-86828-926-8
Price: €39,90

Image book cover: Lebohang Tlali, Linkie Tlali, 2018

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Dutch edition

The Dutch edition Welkom Today - Terug naar Zuid-Afrika is published by Atlas Contact and can be purchased through their website.
ISBN: 978-9-04503-817-9
Price: €39,90

Image book cover: Ad van Denderen, Miner on his way to Thabong, 1990

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Note for editors

For more information on the project Welkom Today and press images, contact Manon Bovenkerk at or +31 (0)299 315083.

For information on the exhibition in Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, contact or +31 (0)20 5732660/662.

For information on the Dutch edition of the publication, contact Yvette Kramer at

For information on the English edition of the publication, contact Barbara Karpf at

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