27 May Per-Anders Pettersson’s ‘Rainbow Transit’ Documents SA’s Transition Since 1994
Per-Anders Pettersson arrived in South Africa in the spring of 1994 to photograph a country taking hold of its democracy. Nelson Mandela was freely elected into presidency and from the ashes of a repressive, segregated and racist state the multi-racial ‘Rainbow Nation’ miraculously emerged. So began Per-Anders’ love affair with South Africa and he spent the next two decades travelling across the country to uncover the complex realities of daily life for a nation in transition.
An excerpt from Per-Anders’ artist statement reads: “For South Africa, democracy was a hard won freedom that brought both rewards and new struggles: a soaring violent crime rate, disease, poverty and massive unemployment. Yet, South Africa’s policies reaped astonishing wealth for a new black elite, and saw the rapid emergence of a black middle class. The energy with which these so-called ‘black diamonds’ embraced capitalism was one of the most striking features of the transition. Their success also fostered a frenzied aspirational spirit amongst the poorer urban classes. However, during the second decade greed and disillusion began to smother this hope and aspiration.” Through his lens Per-Anders has sought to portray the heady sense he felt of “a latter-day gold rush, the energy and the optimism often forgotten”. The body of work was published as a book titled Rainbow Transit in 2013, a year before South Africa celebrated 20 years of democracy.
An exhibition of 25 photographs from Per-Ander’s Rainbow Transit opens at the Watershed’s Good Night Market this evening. Copies of the book are available for purchase at the show or through Exclusive Books stores and MOCCAA at the V&A Waterfront.