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BETWEEN DOGS AND WOLVES (article first published : 2006-07-29)

“When Hector Peterson was killed in the Soweto uprising I was ten years old. Living in a middleclass suburb I didn’t have much political understanding of what was really going on in our country,” so writes Jodi Bieber – well-known South African photographer in her book titled Between Dogs and Wolves – Growing up with South Africa.

Jodi Bieber started her career working as a trainee at The Star newspaper in September 1993 during the run-up to the first democratic election and shares with her viewers the many moments where she caught people unawares - moments in daily living - photographing people from all walks of life, children, teenagers, gangsters, politicians, criminals, villagers and city dwellers. This is truly a book where every photograph tells a story.

Although the photographs speak for themselves, I found the texts supplied with each picture near the end of the book a true revelation. On the cover we find the always-silent twins dressed in their best finery at a traditional wedding in Zeerust.

We meet the members of Fast Gun, are introduced to the Boston Basters and hang out with people who have nothing in particular to do but while away the time. Then there’s the single mother living in a council flat, a child prostitute who charges R50 for a black man and R150 for a white. Life is tough and no-one knows better how to portray this hardship as Bieber. Her photographs become imprints on one’s mind.

We go to a pension pay-out and visit Pofadder in the Northern Cape, spend time with the members from the Ennerdale Academy of Dance, go in and out unnoticed in a squatter camp, and see children from such diverse backgrounds as a home in Soweto to the little blond “Namaqualand daisies” in their lace broekies.

Now based in London, Bieber regularly contributes to major magazines and works on projects for non-profit organisations throughout the world. Her main passion and focus remains on South Africa. She has won numerous awards and has participated in many important international exhibitions.

Between Dogs and Wolves – Growing up with South Africa by Jodi Bieber is published by Double Storey Books and available in all major South African book stores at R160. - Marianne Meijer




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