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Jo Ractliffe


As Terras do Fim do Mundo

Exhibition view, Jo Ractliffe, “As Terras do Fim do Mundo“, 2012, © Rainer Iglar

South African photographer Jo Ractliffe spent two years, accompanied by veteran soldiers, retracing the border war which her country waged against Angola in the 1970s and 1980s and has depicted this former Cold War trouble spot in strikingly objective black-and-white photographs. The artist’s aesthetic approach is very much in the tradition of the New Topographics, examining in photographs the landscape genre as a political phenomenon and pathological subject matter. These images in the minimalist tradition of “these lands at the end of the world“ (As Terras do Fim do Mundo, the title of both the exhibition and the multiple award-winning book) illustrate how to this day the violence of the past has forensically and symbolically etched itself into the otherwise unblemished expanses of the African landscape.
This work follows on seamlessly from the Terreno Ocopado series (2007), in which the artist examined through her photographs the social and spatial demographics of Angola’s capital, Luanda, five years after the end of the civil war.
Jo Ractliffe lives and works as a photographer in Johannesburg, South Africa. She teaches at Witwatersrand University and at the Market Photo Workshop.

Jo Ractliffe, “On the road to Cuito III“, 2009, Hand Silbergelatine Print, 45 x 56 cm, Courtesy of Stevenson, CapeTown and Johannesburg