1978, Grahamstown, South Africa
In 2012 and 2013 the young South African photographer Katharine Cooper, who lives in Arles, travelled back to her homeland South Arica and Zimbabwe to photograph women, men and children whose lives she could have shared. For four months she travelled with her Hasselblad medium format camera over 6000 km to the various locations linked to her childhood and personal history. Deliberately ignoring the anti-apartheid sentiments, Cooper followed her own intuition revealing her solidarity with South Africa’s complicated society that suffers from the high costs of apartheid such as disintegration and alienation. Cooper achieved an intimate portrait, in all its diversity but with incredible sensitivity. In this light her consciousness in identifying with the photographs by Diane Arbus is no accident. Being 'white African' herself she has always known what it was like to be in the minority. Like Arbus, Cooper is drawn to the slightly strange side of humans — the things that make people stand out from others, but in the most subtle and often very shyest of fashions. For these photographs she was awarded the 'Prix de Photographie Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière – Académie des Beaux-Arts’, the photography prize by the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris.
Series: White Africans, a journey to the homeland
Image rights: © Katharine Cooper
Paris Photo, Los Angeles and Paris Photo, Paris 2014
White Africans, a journey to the homeland
Text by Jean-Claude Carrière and Phillip Prodger
The art Newspaper (Robert Bevan) 2014: "... Art Rotterdam has become the Netherlands premier art fair....notable international collectors included Hugo Brown, a Dutch collector of photography, who snapped up works recording the lives of white South Africans by the printer turned photographic artist Katherine Cooper through Amsterdam’s Flatland Gallery".
The Huffington Post (Priscilla Frank), 2014: ..." The Paris Photo Fair exists to expose and honor the artists who maintain the integrity of photography while stretching its borders and flexing its muscles. The world's largest photo fair is currently enjoying its second edition in the United States, choosing Los Angeles' Paramount Pictures Studios as its location....the following artists are at the forefront of the photographic field. Behold, 10 contemporary photographers who are pushing the medium into new territories: Katharine Cooper. ..."
Vanity Fair (es), 2014: "From 25 to 27 April, Paramount Studios in Los Angeles will host the prestigious Paris Photo. Check out 15 of the best contemporary photographers that show their work. You will be impressed. One of them is Katharine Cooper from South Africa (35) who exhibits at Flatland Gallery her series 'White Africans' for which she received the Photography Award from the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris."
NRC (Rianne van Dijck), 2014: "De foto's van de Zuid Afrikaanse fotograaf Katharine Cooper ogen alsof ze decennia geleden gemaakt zijn. Het meisje dat verlegen voor een oude schuurdeur staat met een grote slak in haar handen, doet bijvoorbeeld denken aan de beelden die Dorothea Lange bijna een eeuw geleden maakte van de arme boerenbevolking in het Amerikaanse zuiden."
About Katharine Cooper
South African, b. 1978, Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa, based in Arles, France