The Durban Centre for Photography

Durbanity Project Image source

The Durban Centre for Photography (DCP) was originally conceptualised and founded by Angela Buckalnd in 1995. The DCP opened at the BAT Centre, Durban, with an exhibition,  Meeting Grounds, at the same time it was also the first public auction of photographic prints ever held in South Africa. This was to raise money for the DCP.  Buckland set up the collective which comprised Paul Weinberg, Rafs Mayet, Moses Khubisa, Jeeva Rajgopaul and, of course, Angela Buckland. A highlight of the DCP while  at the BAT centre was hosting the famous African-American photographer, Gordon Parks,  who held a workshop for Street Photographers from Durban. Due to a lack of funds, the DCP was forced to close shop and leave the BAT Centre.

In 1998 the DCP reopened at the KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts (KZNSA) where it hosted and participated in the Nordic cultural exhange Shuttle ’99. The DCP hosted  a number of master classes with Nordic photographers including Stefan Bremer. Clive Hardwick was co-ordinating the DCP at the time.

Following a hiatus, Peter McKenzie re-activated the DCP in April 2012 and headed the organisation. In 2015, the DCP left the KZNSA and re-established itself at the BAT Centre.

The DCP offers photography courses which are designed to broaden conceptual approaches to the practice of photography in South Africa. It was founded to teach and mentor young photographers to engage and communicate with new sets of realities that come with contemporary ideas in our societies, cultures and photographic practice.  In theory, the DCP intends to engage a new aesthetic that reflects “South Africa’s transitional and developmental dispensation with a visual dialogue that informs practices”.[2]

The facility hosts workshops, student photography projects and exhibitions both locally and internationally. It serves as a space for collective learning, where professional photographers teach and mentor future photographers from their own work as they are informed by their own art practice.[3]

The DCP, has seen the realisation of a large number of exhibitions as well as training and workshop opportunities. One workshop, which runs over two months and includes a month long practical component, results in the formation of a collective of photographers embarking on a photo-based project. One such project was titled Ngale: Seeing Beyond, and saw the collaboration of 12 photographers in an exploration of Durban and the aesthetic possibilities of seeing beyond the ordinary and unobserved. The DCP’s objectives with this project was to engage the relationship between art and urbanity with a level of municipal influence, as this project was also realised with funding from eThekwini Parks, Recreation and Culture. It looks to “visualise a hidden Durban” through Ngale, whilst engaging and exploring youth development initiatives, cultural and religious practices and community outreach programmes, among other social issues and spaces.[4]

The exhibition ran from the 30th March 2016 - 17th of April at Main, Mezzanine and Park Galleries.[5]

Another workshop hosted by the DCP was titled Middle Grey which ran in July 2014. Which was a five-day long workshop which was a response to a photographic exhibition at the Durban Art Gallery, Photographs in Black and White: Margaret Bourke-White and the Dawn of Apartheid in South Africa. The workshop used Margaret Bourke-White’s photographs as a case study for looking, seeing and engaging one’s subjectivity whilst exploring social and cultural identity and expression through image and text.[6]

Regarding Otherwise. Image source

Durbanity (2013) which has seen 10 photographers embark on an ongoing initiative of the eThekwini Municipal Region entails photographs of the city in an attempt to understand urbanization patterns and cultures that emerge from these phenomena.[7]

Regarding Otherwhere  WORKSHOP  that ran in July 2014 was a five-day workshop that ran concurrently with the group exhibition titled Interface (2014), a collaboration of DCP’s urbanity project and DALA’s city walk initiative facilitated by Peter Mckenzie, Paulo Menezes, Shirin Motala and Osmosis Liza. This project was a continuity of the International Union of Architects World Congress (UIA) 2014 conference theme of “Otherwhere”.[8]

End Notes

[1] “Peter Mckenzie,” kznsagallery.co.za, last modified 2017.http://www.kznsagallery.co.za/artists/peter_mackenzie.htm

[2] “The KZNSA Durban Center for Photography (DCP),” kznsagallery.co.za, last modified 2017. http://www.kznsagallery.co.za/events/2012/December/the_kznsa_durban_centre_for_photography_dcp.htm

[3] “Peter Mckenzie”

[4] “About DCP” http://dcp-online.wixsite.com/dcponline/info

[5] “Ngale: Seeing Beyond,” kznsagallery.co.za, last modified 2017. http://www.kznsagallery.co.za/exhibitions/ngale_seeing_beyond.htm

[6] “DCP Workshops” http://dcp-online.wixsite.com/dcponline/workshops

[7] “DCP Projects” http://dcp-online.wixsite.com/dcponline/projects

[8] “DCP Workshops”.


References:
• About DCP” URL: http://dcp-online.wixsite.com/dcponline/info Date Accessed: 5 March 2017
• “DCP Workshops” URL: http://dcp-online.wixsite.com/dcponline/workshops Date Accessed: 5 March 2017
• “DCP Projects” URL: http://dcp-online.wixsite.com/dcponline/projects Date Accessed: 5 March 2017
• “The KZNSA Durban Center for Photography (DCP),” kznsagallery.co.za, last modified 2017. URL:http://www.kznsagallery.co.za/events/2012/December/the_kznsa_durban_centre_for_photography_dcp.htm
• “Ngale: Seeing Beyond,” kznsagallery.co.za, last modified 2017. URL: http://www.kznsagallery.co.za/exhibitions/ngale_seeing_beyond.htm
• “Peter Mckenzie,” kznsagallery.co.za, last modified 2017 URL: http://www.kznsagallery.co.za/artists/peter_mackenzie.htm
• Buckland, A. (2017) Email to Jeeva Rajgopaul, dated 2017-10-18

Last updated : 24-Oct-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 27-Mar-2017