The Hasselblad Foundation Collection
“He wasn’t just brave. He wasn’t just enterprising. He was a supremely fine photographer"
David Goldblatt on Ernest Cole.
Jimmy Phindi Tjege, 27, who like many young black South Africans has never held a job in a society still scarred by apartheid, had come to the exhibition with his girlfriend, Nomthandazo Patience Chazo, 26, who works for the government and has a car. They had driven from their black township, Daveyton, about 30 miles away.
Ms. Chazo was struck by a photograph of four hungry children scraping porridge from a single pot set on a concrete floor. Mr. Tjege singled out another picture, one of a serious boy squatting on the floor of an unfurnished schoolroom, clutching a chalkboard, with two tears of sweat running down the side of his face.
“I feel angry,” Mr. Tjege said, as he gestured to the rest of the gallery with a sweep of his hand. “This room is full of anger.”
Mr. Cole’s captions and photographs are imbued with wrenching emotions.
Next to a photograph of a maid holding a white baby girl whose lips are pressed to the woman’s forehead, the caption says: “Servants are not forbidden to love. Woman holding child said, ‘I love this child, though she’ll grow up to treat me just like her mother does.’ ”