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Transformation in pictures

- By Buhle Zuma


Transformation is an ongoing project in South Africa and is experienced differently by members of the ‘rainbow nation’. These multiple interpretations are captured in the winning submissions of the 2015 Wits Photographic Competition and Exhibition themed Journeys: reflections on transformation.

Members of the Wits Community sent in more than a hundred entries for this annual competition hosted by the Wits Transformation and Employment Equity Office (TEEO) in partnership with Black Like Me, the competition was conceived as a means for students and staff to express their views on transformation.

Photographs depicted peoples’ thoughts on race, age, authority, social status, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, culture, fashion and trends and Wits as a location in Johannesburg.

The top four places were claimed by Sithembiso Khalishwayo (R5 000), Lucky Mqoboli (R3 000), Samantha Camara (R1 500) and Cindy Dladla (R1 000) who also won Black Like Me hampers. In addition to the winning places, five students received honourable mentions from the judging panel.

The collection of photographs yielded by this competition will be deposited into the Wits Archive says Tish White, Project Coordinator: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Advocacy at the TEEO.

“The photographs depicted are a historical record of the views of some members of the Wits community on transformation.”

The adjudicating panel was made of three judges.  Panel member, Thamsanqa Pooe had glowing remarks about the submissions.

“The entries were a refreshing reflection on transformation. A reflection on those that seek to expose a lack of transformation; a celebration of the progress of transformation; and a symbolic rebellion from those that seek to agitate the powers that be to transform. 

“As judges, we had to consider two broad criterion items. Firstly, the message encoded in the text. Here we had to measure the significance of the transformation theme that was being conveyed and we had to analyse how compelling it is for contemporary society. In doing this, we had to consider our status quo and the issues that are pertinent today. 

“Secondly, we had to consider the artistic value of the text. Photography as an art was analysed here. For example, framing, lighting, the gaze and background to measure the overall aesthetic wealth of the photograph,” he said

Pooe added that the judging process was pleasant because they had the unique opportunity to decode a plethora of themes. “Wits produces students that are sensitive of the issues that surround them. This was clear in the entries submitted.”

White, who has been part of the organising committee since 2012, echoes the sentiment. “I noticed a variety of responses that reflect journeys, ranging from unpacking colonisation, education, personal growth, culture, gender and other themes. The consistent factor has been a great deal of effort on the part of the entrants in offering their perspectives, which has been evident in each individual entry.”

3rd place winner titled: The Man by  Samantha Camara