Paul Weinberg was born in 1956 in Pietermaritzburg into a progressive middle-class Jewish family. His father was a lawyer and his mother a music teacher. He was the youngest of three children. He completed his schooling in Pietermaritzburg at the Prestbury Junior School and Alexandra Boys' High School, and obtained his undergraduate BA degree in political science, economic history and law from the University of Natal. In 1973 he was called up to do his military service and served his time in Upington, Walvis Bay and on the Namibian border. His military experience had a profound influence, encouraging him to question his middle-class privileges. On his return from the army in 1977 he obtained a diploma in photography from Natal Technikon.

Weinberg’s professional career as a documentary photographer began in 1978 working for the Natal Witness. The Sunday Tribune also employed him. In 1979 Weinberg taught photography at the Open School, a community arts project started by the Institute of Race Relations to train young black youths in the arts. He worked for the Institute of Race Relations as a media worker and in 1980 and 1981 made two super-8 documentaries, one on Alexandra Township and the other on Page View, a predominately Indian area before their forced removal.

In late 1981 Weinberg was recruited by the South African exiled artists of the MEDU collective in Botswana to coordinate the photographic exhibition for the Culture and Resistance Conference and Festival. In 1982 Weinberg and photographer Omar Badsha founded Afrapix, a collective photo agency that played a key role in documenting the resistance to apartheid in the 1980s. Weinberg headed its Agency and Badsha headed its exhibition and special projects division. The pair organised and edited the annual Staffrider exhibitions.

Weinberg also contributed to the “Cordoned Heart” project prepared for the Second Carnegie Inquiry into Poverty and Development in Southern Africa. Later that year he started Afrascope, an anti-apartheid film and video unit. In 1991 many of the members including Weinberg left Afrapix and formed a new photographic agency called Southlight, which later became South Photos.

Weinberg’s in-depth documentation about the lives of the modern San living in Namibia, Botswana and South Africa resulted in a number of exhibitions locally and internationally and a book (In Search of the San). In 1993 he won the Mother Jones International Documentary Award for his portrayal of the fisherfolk of the Kosi Bay community, at the time under threat of removal by the apartheid government, on the northern Natal coast.

In 1994 Weinberg compiled and ran a course in photojournalism at the Durban Technikon. From 1997 – 2001 he taught at the University of Cape Town and later obtained his Masters degree from Duke University, North Carolina where in 2004 he taught at the Centre for Documentary Studies. He is the senior curator of visual archives at the University of Cape Town, and lectures in documentary arts also at the university.

He continues to work as a photojournalist, documentary photographer and film-maker. His most recent films include Dancing for God, documenting the annual Shembe Church pilgrimage; Trancing in Dreamtime, a look at San and Aboriginal musicians; and Double Vision, exploring the concept of the South African diaspora.

Weinberg co-founded, with David Goldblatt, the Ernest Cole Award for creative photography in southern Africa.

Awards

Mother Jones Award (essay on the fishing community of Kosi Bay)
Poverty Exhibition (Sangoca), Johannesburg
International Focus on Women and Family Planning, Spain
MALS Program, Duke University award of excellence for final project

Photographic Books

1986 Beyond the Barricades (Aperture), joint editor and participating photographer
1989 Shaken Roots (EDA publishers), the Bushmen of Namibia (text: Megan Biesele)
1995 An End to Waiting (Independent Electoral Commission), South Africa's 1994 elections
1997 Back to the Land (Porcupine Press), a book on the return to land of dispossessed South Africans
1998 Fault Lines (University of California Press), a book on South Africa written by David Goodman
1999 In Search of the San (Porcupine Press), photographs and text on the lives of modern Bushmen
2000 Once We Were Hunters (Mets and Schilt, David Philip), a book on indigenous peoples in Africa
2002 Durban: Impressions of an African City, (Porcupine Press) with David Robbins and Gcina Mhlophe
2002 The Church’s Secret Agent (Press), editor, anthology of South African photography, 1976-1994
2002 Group Portrait, a story of a Zulu family (Tropical Museum, Amsterdam)
2003 Let’s Eat! Children’s book on food, (Oxfam UK)
2004 Travelling Light, personal collection of 25 years photography (UKZN Press)
2006 Moving Spirit, personal journey on spirituality in southern Africa (Double Storey)
2007/9 Then and Now the work of eight photographers curated and edited by Paul Weinberg (Highveld Press)
2010 South African Photography 1950-2010, contributing photographer
2011 World Documents, one of six contributing photographers from around the world
2012 Dear Edward, family footprints (Jacana)
2014 The Other Camera, curator (Center for Humanities, University of Michigan)
2017 Traces and Tracks, photographer and writer (Jacana)
2018 On Common Ground, curator, Goodman Gallery

Press & Magazine Publications

From 1985-1998 worked regularly for Der Spiegel and Leadership magazines. Work published in South African and international publications, including: Newsweek, Time, The LA Times, New York Times, Du, The Christian Science Monitor, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer, The Sunday Times, The New Scotsman, Geo, National Geographic Children’s magazine, Marie-Claire, Red, Elle, Drum, Pace, Style, Sunday Life, Africa Geographic, Sawubona

Films

1980 Dark City, about Alexandra Township, Johannesburg
1981 Part of the Process, about forced removal of the residents of Pageview
1998 Dancing with God, about the annual pilgrimage of devotees of Shembe Church, a syncretic Zulu Christian movement,KwaZulu-Natal
2004 Trancing in Dreamtime, about Aboriginal and San musicians
2005 Double Vision about the South African diasporic community in North Carolina
2008 The Road to Then and Now, a film with Roger Lucey about South African photography

Photography Exhibitions and Curatorial Projects

1982 Culture and Resistance. Co-ordinated, curated and participated in the photographic exhibition for Culture and Resitance Festival, Gaberone, Botswana
1983-5 Participated in and co-ordinated the Staffrider exhibition with Omar Badsha and Chris van Wyk
1983 The Cordoned Heart. Exhibition on communities under threat, with Omar Badsha. Essays submitted to the Carnegie Investigation into Poverty and Development, some exhibited and published in (WW Norton & Co., 1986)
1983 Side by Side, an essay on Mayfair, multiracial Johannesburg suburb, at the History Workshop
1986 Co-ordinated an exhibition on the San. Participated in Carnegie seminar on social documentary photography
1987 Hidden Camera, participant and curator in the CASA exhibition, Amsterdam
1989 Going Home, joint exhibition with Santu Mofokeng on our hometowns, exhibited in Pietermaritzburg and Cape Town
1990 Participated in a Berlin joint exhibition of South African photographers
1992 Beyond the Headlines, co-editor of exhibition in Holland and elsewhere
1993 Through a Lens Darkly (six photographers), South African National Gallery
1994 A Shifting Landscape, curator, Foto Instituut, Netherlands
1995 The Forgotten People, Johannesburg Biennale, Market Gallery
1995 Kosi Bay: The survival of the fishermen, Durban Art Gallery
1996 Footprints in the Sand, exhibition on the San of Southern Africa, South African National Gallery and Museum of Ethnology, Rotterdam (1997)
1998-99 In Search of the San, solo exhibition travelled to Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Germany
1998 Kosi Bay exhibition, Oekemedia festival, Freiburg, Germany
1999 X-scape, co -curator, exhibition co-ordinated by the DCP/NSA Gallery with Nordic Countries
2000 In Search of the San, Venice, Italy
2001 The Fisherfolk of Kosi Bay, Month of Photography, Cape Town
2000 The Moving Spirit, Local History Museum, Durban; Bensusan Museum, Johannesburg (exhibition about religions and faiths)
2001 Once We Were Hunters, travelled to Namibia, Norway (Indigenous Peoples Conference, Tromso Museum)
2001 Great Photographers, participating photographer, curated by John Pilger, Barbican Gallery
2002 Once We Were Hunters and In Search of the San, W. Australian Museum (part of the Survival Concert and Perth Arts Festival)
2002 Once We Were Hunters, Month of Photography, SA Museum, Cape Town
2002 Durban: Impressions of an African City, NSA Gallery, Durban
2002 Group Portrait: South African Families, contributing photographer, Tropen Museum, Amsterdam
2003 Fatherhood, essay on a father and his family in South Africa, organized by UNESCO and the HSRC
2004 Travelling Light, photographic retrospective, PhotoZA, Jo’burg, NSA Gallery, Photographers Gallery, Cape Town
2005 Travelling Light, Reynolds Theatre Duke University, Library, John Carroll University, Cleveland, USA
2006 Moving Spirit, NSA Gallery Durban; David Krut Gallery, Johannesburg.
2007 Moving Spirit, South African Jewish Museum
2007 Moving Spirit, Noordelicht festival, Holland
2007 Then and Now, Albany Museum (curator and participant)
2008/9 Then and Now, Durban Art Gallery, Duke University, Ghent Festival Belgium, Castle Good Hope Gallery, Cape Town, PhotoZA, Johannesburg, UNISA Gallery, Pretoria, Monarsh Gallery, Australia Malmo Gallery, Sweden
2009 Rodney Barnett, A Life’s Work, (Curator), Michaelis Art Gallery
2009/10 Here and There, photographic exhibition, Kalk Bay Modern, Cape Town, Seippel Gallery, Johannesburg
2010 Documentary Photography, South Africa 1950-2010, Group show, Koln Germany, JAG, Johannesburg
2010 Soccer Kultcha (curator), Michaelis Art Gallery
2011 Amabandla amaAfrika – (curator) an exhibition of Photographs by Martin West, CAS Gallery, UCT
2011 World Documents exhibition, one of 6 featured photographers, Mount Holyoke College of Arts Museum
2012 Dear Edward, family footprints Seippel Bailey Gallery
2013 Dear Edward, family footprints South African Jewish Museum
2013 Umhlaba, co-curator, exhibition to commemorate 1913 Land Act, SA National Gallery
2014 The Other Camera, (curator) Center for Humanties, University of Michigan
2015 The Other Camera, Wits Origins Centre, Johannesburg, Commune 1, Cape Town
2015 Rise and Fall of Apartheid Group show, ICP, Museum Africa
2015 Apartheid and After, Group Show, Huis Marseilles, Amsterdam
2016 1976/360, Co-curator, CAS Gallery, UCT
2016 Sound Travels, Co-curator, CAS Gallery, UCT
2016 Abantu beMendi, Co-curator, CAS Gallery, UCT
2016 Traces and Tracks, Wits Origins Centre, Johannesburg
2017 So You Think You Can Play, Co-curator, Exhibition of Louis Moholo-Moholo
2018 On Common Ground, Photographs by David Goldblatt and Peter Magubane, Goodman Gallery

Employment

1978 Natal Witness
1979 Taught photography for one year at the Community Arts Open School
1980 - 82 Set up the Media Centre at the South African Institute of Race Relations
1982 Worked in production for the Interchurch Media Programme, helped establish Afrascope, a community film unit, and Afrapix, a photographic collective and agency. Worked on retainer for the Sunday Tribune
1983 - Freelance photographer
1984 Consultant on the film And Now We Have No Land
1988-1993 Worked part-time for Environmental and Development Agency photographing projects in rural environments, exploring ways of communicating with a rural audience with a low level of literacy. Photo editor of New Ground magazine
1994 Official photographer for the Independent Electoral Commission during
South Africa's 1994 election period (the book An End to Waiting includes this documentation)
2008 -10 Senior Curator, Centre for Curating the Archive, Michaelis School of Fine Art, UCT
2011 - 15 Senior Curator, Visual Archives, UCT Libraries
2016 - 17 Senior Curator, Centre for African Studies Gallery, UCT
2018 - 2018 Manager Primary Collections, Special Collections, UCT Libraries

Teaching/Workshops

1980 – 1990 Ran Afrapix workshops for community organizations, trade unions, and church groups
1987 Ran a workshop on South African photography, Duke University, USA, in collaboration with Alistair Sparks, visiting lecturer at the time
1989 Joint workshop with Santu Mofokeng in conjunction with our exhibition Going Home, about our respective home towns, Tatham Art Gallery and Rhodes University, Journalism Dept.
1994 Ran and devised the first photographic course in Photojournalism at the Durban Institute of Technology, Journalism Department
1995 - 1998 Ran workshops for the Durban Centre of Photography
1995 Ran a workshop on environmental photography for African photographers for Panos Institute
1997, 98, 2001 Visiting lecturer, Michaelis School of Fine Art, Photography Dept, Univ. of Cape Town
2000 –2002 Presented my work to the History of Art Department, University of Cape Town
2000 –2003 Ran introductory and advanced courses in photography
2001 –2003 Workshops for the SDI, street photographers empowerment project, KwaZulu-Natal
2003 Visiting lecturer on documentary photography and film, Creative Lab, Durban
2004 -5 Lecturer at Centre of Documentary Studies, Duke University
2006 Taught Documentary photography and film Ethnomusicology dept Rhodes University 4tth term
2006 Taught modules on photojournalism and environmental reporting, Varsity College Durban
2006 Co-taught a course in advanced documentary filmmaking for the Durban International Film Festival
2001 –2010 Ran orientation workshops for Masters Public Health students, course co-ordinated by Dr. Di Cooper of Community Medicine department, UCT
2008-10 Taking Pictures, Telling Stories, extra mural course, CCA, UCT
2008-10 Documentary Photography in Ethnomusicology, History of Art, Photojournalism in CFMS UCT (undergraduate)
2010 Documentary Photography and Filmaking CFMS, UCT (post graduate)
2011 Documentary Photography course African Studies/CFMS (post grad)
2012 -8 Documentary Photography and film course Centre for Film and Media Studies (post grad)
2014-2017 Visual Antrhopology, honours UCT
2017 Representation module, African Studies undergrad major, UCT

Organisations

1982-1990 Founder member of Afrapix
1990-1996 Founder member of SouthLight
1996-2000 Founder member of South
1986-1993 Vice President of the Southern African Union of Journalists (SAUJ) (representing freelancers)
1996-1998.1 A Founder and Chairperson Durban Centre for Photography
1996-1998.2 Committee member of the South African Centre of Photography
2003-2004 Committee member VANSA, Visual Arts Group, Durban
2011-2018 Co-founder with David Goldblatt of the Ernest Cole Award
2015 Committee member Muizenberg festival

References

Godby, Michael. 2004. After Apartheid: 10 South African Documentary Photographers. African Arts. Winter: 36 ”“ 94|Godby, Michael & Weinberg, Paul. 2008. Then & Now: Eight South African photographers. Johannesburg: Highveld Press|Hayes, Patricia. 2008. Power, Secrecy, Proximity: A History of South African Photography. In Jenny Altschuler (ed.) The 4th Cape Town Month of Photography: Emergence & Emergency. Cape Town: The South African Centre for Photography|Tomaselli, Keyan. 1985. Progressive Film and Video in South Africa. Media Development  3: 1517|Weinberg, Paul & Biesele, Megan. 1990. Shaken Roots: The Bushmen of Namibia. Johannesburg: EDA Publications|Paul Weinberg Photography [Online] Available at: http://www.paulweinberg.co.za (Accessed 2 February 2010)

Further reading list

Sources in Our Archive

Collections in the Archives