Beneath the Surface - Steve Bloom
01 June to 28 June 2012
Venue: Guardian Gallery (Kings Place)
Address: Guardian News & Media, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9GU
Disabled Access: This event has wheelchair access
Opening Times: 10am-6pm, 7 days per week
An exhibition of Steve Bloom's photographs from the mid 1970’s, capturing a critical moment in the history of apartheid-era South Africa. Some of these images are being shown for the first time, while others have not been seen since they were first exhibited internationally three decades ago.
1976 was a critical year in South African history. The first real cracks in the apartheid system of racial segregation appeared when black school children took to the streets to protest against new laws, which had been introduced to reinforce an inferior education system. The authorities struck back ruthlessly, killing and wounding many defenseless children. It was a time of realisation: the beginning of the end of white complacency and black defeatism.
Bloom's work in Apartheid South Africa, poignant and edgy, reveals the alienation of a country on the cusp of change—placing Bloom among a select few photographers in possession of the combined boldness and sensitivity of vision necessary to effectively capture the mood and charged racial climate of the time.
Internationally acclaimed photographer Steve Bloom took to the streets and the townships, photographing people in this pivotal historical moment. Some of the pictures, edgy and fleeting, capture the tension of the time. Others, such as portraits of down-and-outs, show the utter despair of people under apartheid. In his images, Bloom manages to capture the complex emotional essence of the moment South Africa began to experience unstoppable, real dissent.
In 1977 (in the same week that Steve Biko was murdered by security police in South Africa) Steve Bloom travelled to London where, soon after, the International Defense and Aid Fund for South Africa published and exhibited these photographs internationally. Consequently, he was exiled from South Africa and would not return for another thirteen years. This year marks the 35th anniversary of Steve Biko’s death and likewise Bloom's images, not seen for decades, which provide a timely reminder of this troubled but important period in South Africa’s history.
See British Journal of Photography Cover 1977 cover, right
Steve Bloom and a representative from the Steve Biko Foundation will be delivering a lecture to accompany the exhibition:
Talk: Beneath the Surface
11 June, 7pm
Steve Bloom is a writer and a photographic artist who specialises in evocative images of the living world. Born in South Africa in 1953, he first used the camera to document life in South Africa during the apartheid years. He moved to England in 1977 and co-founded one of London’s leading photographic special effects companies. With the use of pioneering digital techniques, he quickly built up a world-wide client base and worked on many prestigious campaigns, including the official posters for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.
In the early nineties, during a safari holiday, he began photographing animals, and within a short time he had swapped his established city career for the precarious life of an international travelling photographer. Steve Bloom’s concern for the environment is strongly evident in his wildlife images. He strives to capture the animal’s spirit, and blur the lines separating different species. His photographs of people reveal a compassionate understanding of his subjects, evident in his books Living Africa and Trading Places: The Merchants of Nairobi.
He has won international awards for his work, including The Power of Photography Award, The Golden Eye of Russia, and Lucie Awards. Numerous magazine publishers such as Life, Time, Terre Sauvage, National Geographic, Geo, Airone, and Geographic, as well as many photographic publications, have featured his pictures. His own books have been published internationally in over seventy editions. He has had a number of exhibitions including his Spirit of the Wild series - large outdoor exhibitions in city centres, in Copenhagen, more than 1.4 million visitors were officially counted during the five month run.
Steve Bloom is an accomplished speaker, and has lectured at venues such as the Royal Geographical Society and the Natural History Museum.
A walk down Kitengela Road, Nairobi: by Steve Bloom. Is this the widest continuous panoramic image ever?
BBC Interview with Steve Bloom about Trading Places
Stephen Biko (18 Dec 1946 – 12 Sep 1977) was an anti-apartheid activist in South Africa in the 1960s and 1970s, arguably the most dynamic political leader of his time. A student leader, he later founded the Black Consciousness Movement which would empower and mobilise much of the urban black population into a state of self awareness and defiant protest. He was constantly under police surveillance, arrested and banned resulting in his murder in police detention in 1977.
He has been called a martyr of the anti-apartheid movement. While living, his writings and activism attempted to empower black people and he was famous for his slogan "black is beautiful", which he described as meaning: "man, you are okay as you are, begin to look upon yourself as a human being".
The ANC has celebrated Biko in the pantheon of struggle heroes, going as far as using his image for campaign posters in South Africa's first non-racial elections in 1994. The voice of BIko still lives today through the Steve Biko Foundation.
The Steve Biko Foundation is a community development organization inspired by the legacy of Bantu Stephen Biko. An examination of the leading South African institutions that have contributed to shaping national discourse, highlights the void that exists in promoting the intangible aspects of development: identity, culture and values, the issues that speak to the soul of a nation. Since its inception, the Steve Biko Foundation has sought to fill this gap; and in the coming decade will intensify its efforts to strengthen democracy by championing dialogue, scholarship and programmes on the relationship between identity, agency, citizenship and social action.
Vision & Mission
To be the premier independent promoter of the values that Steve Biko lived and died for: restoring people to their true humanity.
- Create spaces for critical analysis and engagement with vital socio-economic and political issues in order to strengthen democracy
- Foster the intangible but essential community building blocks: history, identity, culture and values, as the foundation of leadership and agency at the level of the individual and the community
- Develop leadership at every level to enhance civic participation in the political, economic and cultural life of society
- Nurture and affirm fundamental human values
STEVE BLOOM BOOKS:
To see more of Bloom's books visit www.stevebloombooks.com
Steve Bloom is an internationally renowned wildlife and travel photographer. Steve Bloom is an internationally renowned wildlife and travel photographer. He has published many titles for both adults and children including:
Man at home with can of Doom insecticide, Clanwilliam, South Africa, 1975 © Steve Bloom /SteveBloom.com
Grand Parade, Cape Town, South Africa, 1976 © Steve Bloom /SteveBloom.com
Policeman chasing man during street protest, Cape Town, South Africa, 1976 © Steve Bloom /SteveBloom.com
Bus stop, Cape Town, South Africa, 1976 © Steve Bloom /SteveBloom.com
British Journal of Photography. Cover - August 1977
The Guardian Gallery © Tom Bulley