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FATHERHOOD PROJECT EXHIBITION (article first published : 2004-03-17)

Durban based photographer Paul Weinberg features in The Fatherhood Project exhibition at the Association of Arts gallery in Pretoria from March 24 until April 8.

The exhibition is part of the first phase of the Fatherhood Project, initiated to stimulate public discourse around men and fathering by presenting an overwhelmingly positive portrait of South African men caring compassionately for children.

The exhibition consists of approximately 120 photographs, featuring the work of a wide range of contributors, including some of South Africa's best-known photographers, as well as students and children using disposable cameras to portray their fathers and the care they provide. Three photographic essays, each an intimate portrayal of the life of an ordinary father, have been provided by celebrated South African photographers Paul Weinberg, Ruth Motau and George Hallett.

Perhaps the most profoundly affecting of the photographs exhibited are those taken by schoolchildren, many of whom come from poor families. These children, none of whom had any previous photographic experience, were given brief orientation and training, provided with disposable cameras, and requested to take pictures of their fathers or father figures at home. The resulting images are a powerful testimony to the enduring presence of committed fathers, even amongst the poorest communities. They also demonstrate the fathering role played by men who are not the biological fathers of the children for whom they provide care.

The Fatherhood Project exhibition will travel to venues around South Africa during 2004. At each of these exhibitions, government and non-government organisations have been invited to participate.

At the entrance to the exhibition are two large banners. One is a collage of newspaper headlines and shocking photographs that document the abuse that women and children have been subjected to at the hands of men. The other pays homage to the Fathers of our Nation, epitomised by Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. The banners denote the crisis in which South African men find themselves today, and the hope for a redemptive future symbolised in the paternal figure of Madiba.

The exhibition is annotated by extracts from children's essays on the men, women and other children who fulfil fatherly roles in their lives. Their text demonstrates the importance to children of men's love and care.

The last event of the Fatherhood Project's 2004 programme will be a Fatherhood Convention, to be held in Durban towards the end of the year. At this event, participating organisations from around the country will have the opportunity to come together to witness each other's activities, share ideas and develop an ongoing advocacy, research and policy agenda to expand men's care and protection of children.

More information from Professor Linda Richter, Executive Director: Child, Youth and Family Development, Human Sciences Research Council on 031 273-1418, fax 031 273-1416 or visit www.hsrc.ac.za/fatherhood




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