Jürgen Schadeberg

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The Black & White Fifties in South Africa

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These photographs are from The Schadeberg Collection which covers fifty years of work, from the fifties to the nineties. Jürgen Schadeberg documented key cultural, historical and political personalities and events from the fifties in South Africa.

Silver gelatin, archival fibre, selenium-toned prints, signed by Jürgen Schadeberg are available. Please complete the enquiry form for more information.

When I arrived in South Africa in 1950 from Germany I found two societies running in parallel with each other without any communication whatsoever.

There was an invisible wall between the two worlds. The Black World, or "Non European World" as described by white society, was culturally and economically rejected by the White World. Only servants and menial workers could enter the White World.

In the fifties The Black World was becoming culturally and politically very dynamic, whereas the White World seemed to me to be isolated, cocooned, colonial and ignorant of the Black World.

As a newcomer and outsider I managed to quite easily hop from one world to another…for example in the evening I might photograph a white masked ball in The City Hall, the next morning an ANC Defiance Campaign meeting, or a shebeen in Sophiatown….all followed by The Durban July.

My images from the vibrant fifties Black World, "the rejected society", have been extensively covered in South Africa because I felt it was important that both blacks and whites should see what the Verwoerdian ideology had successfully destroyed.

My images of The White World were less historically pressing some 20 years ago but now I feel that the time is right to publish them and to show the other side of the coin…, the yin and yang, the white face of South Africa in the fifties.

Drum Magazine

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