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An Interracial African Family Album, Real and Imagined

The great-great-great-grandfather of photographer Tamary Kudita, who was born in Zimbabwe and is now based in South Africa, was a white Anglo Boer War Commissioner who fell in love with a black plantation worker named Rosy. Because of the racial and political climate of the time, they were forced to separate, but before they did, they had six children. Two of the children – Sophie and Namasi – were classified as black by the government, Martha and Lindy were classified as coloured, and Peter and Ben as white.

Peter, Kudita’s great-great-grandfather, who grew up to be a Boer soldier would occasionally sneak food to his siblings. When he was caught, he and his wife were banished from their homeland into an urban area. Later, they had a son named Harry who married a black woman.

This cycle of interracial union is the driving force behind Kudita’s series “Maintaining Memories,” opening at PH Centre in Cape Town, South Africa, on June 21.

The work is based on her own family album, both real and imagined. Finding the original Kudita family album to be shrouded in secrecy and acts of destruction, Kudita began recreating her family’s archive, depicting various generations from her great-great-great-grandfather to herself.  This self-reflective series echoes Kudita’s “quest to uncover the story of her origins and to understand more about the people who shaped her,” explains PH Centre in the press release.

In her artist statement, Kudita says that the portraits show the “challenges and victories” of each of the generations depicted and “serve to portray that African identities are complex and multifaceted.”

“My work makes visible what might otherwise have remained obscure,” says Kudita.

-Sarah Stacke

“Maintaining Memories”
PH Centre
Cape Town, South Africa
June 21 – July 21, 2018

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