An Introduction to the Photographic Project
Photographed by David Dodds
A Portrait of South Africa in transition.. as revealed by many of its luminous Women
by David Dodds.
In the years leading up to the 1990’s, a society in a southern region of the world was battling ideologies that were foisted on the many by an unacceptable few. Its regional isolation from main stream western culture was designed to increase the pressure on this society; pressure that suggested somewhat forcefully that the country needed to address its stance on racism in order to be re-admitted to ‘acceptable tolerances’ as perceived by prevailing western standards.
If such a mechanism was in force, then portraits of its people would eventually reveal telling points of view if assessed over the period in question. There would be indicators of social mores as the years crept by, revealed by everything from clothing to stance, and changes in acceptability, however imperceptible, would finally be revealed, almost as if one were able to flip through the pages of a book in retrospect.
..from a climate of major upheaval, societal turmoil and injustice,
ongoing violence and resultant anxiety.
Into this environment, photographer David Dodds started a Photographic Project featuring iconic women of the time, and with the intention of proceeding in a similar vein for a decade to ‘see how many things would change’. A process of a year masks change as it only represents an imperceptible current record, but over an extended period, a greater overview was likely to emerge.
The collection of images as they stand from that era cannot hang in any part of the world without an immediate query as to the origins of the sitters and the prevailing standards that would have lead to such a compilation. An analysis of the earliest images may illicit words such as breathtaking, beautiful, a tour de force, just as much as naive, immature, insecure and lacking in depth. These concepts are probably all mixed together and undeniable, and form exactly the message that was intended. One only has to understand the late 1980’s South African fixation for “Miss South Africa’s” as a replacement for a non-existent Royalty to grasp more about these realities.
It was not for a further four years from launch that nudity appeared in an acceptable form in the Project, and coincided with an astounding reversal in pornography laws that moved social standards from the puritanical to the obscene in a few short months.
From 1994, the country passed through into it’s well documented democracy. One would have expected in theory, an element of cohesion and confidence in the nation to emerge. But confidence of the sitters was elusive. Was this not also a reflection of a society in turmoil? The crime level through transition and onward would have forced most other civilised countries to have declared a state of emergency.
The influences brought to bear on the final images were drawn from the contexts of this Nation. These affected the input of the photographer and the extended creative team on the shoots, and followed through to the acceptance or otherwise of a reviewing public and media; an era of no internet in the early part. With the heavy media interest and as the Project became known in South Africa, questions in the very early years revolved around the inconceivable: “Will you feature a black person?” “Will you consider doing any nudes?” The potential influences on any single image were many; the perceptions of a collection, enormous.
More appreciably in 1999 and into 2000, the ability of the subjects to adopt new directives in their images & carry them off with aplomb appeared to have come to the fore. If one were to have attempted the concepts of some of the last images with a potential subject shooting in 1990, the image would simply not have materialised. Pressure from society, when subjects were overly anxious for acceptance, was simply too limiting and constrictive.
Decades on: Raising more questions
With more than 100 people photographed from that era, the concept of revisiting the ‘original faces’ adds another potential dimension to the examination; the intrigue of seeing the process of time as life has changed them.
We may see.
Tessa Ziegler Classical Guitarist
Innocentia Moephuli Model
Andrea Stelzer Miss Germany, Miss South Africa
Nolene Berry International Model
Rozanne Rocha International Model
Michelle Bruce Miss South Africa
Lynne de Bruyn Revlon's Unforgettable Face
Melanie Walker Miss Hillbrow, & TV Presenter
Aileen Joubert International Model
Penny Rey (Coelen) Miss World 1958
Diana Tilden Davis Miss South Africa
Suanne Braun TV Presenter, LA Actress
Suzette van der Merwe Miss South Africa
Jayne Hutton Miss Hillbrow and model
Sandy M'Crystal Kinnear Miss South Africa
Debbie Cochrane International Model
Cindy McCabe Model of the Year
Gail McCann International Model
Robyn Poole Model
Jane Warden TV Presenter
Amanda De Waal International Model
Jana Cilliers Actress
Edwina Sheridan Actress
Janine Eser Actress
Margaret Gardiner Miss Universe and actress
Doreen Morris TV Presenter
Wilma van de Bijl Miss South Africa
Ashley Hayden TV presenter, Actress
Monica Zaayman Model
Jahan Dollie Model
Barbara Silva International Model
Penny Smythe TV Presenter
Jean Irvine International Model
Phillippa Walters Model
Belinda Haw, a Classic Nude for December 1995, the halfway mark.
Anneline Kriel Miss World 1972
Chantell Stander Rankin Actress
Sandra Prinsloo International Actress
Gillian van Houten TV Presenter
Kate Normington Singer and Actress
Constance Masilo TV Presenter, Actress & Model
Lena Farugia International Actress
Ereeza Ryland Model
Michelle Garforth TV Presenter, MC, Actress
Lavine Marian Model
Theresa de Klerk International Model
Belinda Lawless International Model
Charissa Hardy Model
Claire Johnston Lead Singer, Mango Groove
Michelle Burgers Actress
Roberta Little Model
Wendy Oldfield Singer
Michélle van Breda Editor, Sarie, South Africa
Leigh Toselli Beauty Editor, International Model, Stylist
Carol Anne Becker Miss Universe Entrant from RSA
Sandy Ngema TV Presenter
Carry Read Model of the Year
Amy Kleinhans-Kurd Miss South Africa
Christel Smith TV Actress from Egoli
Tanya Bishop Model
Alexandra Dorrestein Model
Anri van Rensburg Model
Francis van Rensburg Model
Marianne Fassler Fashion Designer
Anna-Mart van de Merwe Actress
Basetsane Makgalamele Miss South Africa
Yvonne Chaka Chaka Singer / Entertainer
Abigail Kubeka Singer / Entertainer
Alana Ross International Model
Dali Shezi Model
Tatum Leigh Williams Model
Bernalee Daniel Miss South Africa
Olivera Jokic International Model
Gerry Williams TV Presenter
Shelley Russouw International Model
Edith Venter Socialite
Khanyi Dhlomo Mkhize Editor, TV Presenter & Publisher
Tasmin Tobbit International Model
Megan Howells Miss Sandton and Model
Jacqui Mofokeng Miss South Africa
Jackie Davids TV Actress
Leigh Downing Joubert Model Agent
Laura Steed Actress and Model
Annie Malan Actress
Phumla Majola Model
Lenah Zinyama Model
Jenna Clifford Jeweller and Motivational Guru
Christina Storm Model and Actress
Thusani Mulaudzi Model
Luzette De Villiers Housewife
Felicia Mabuza-Suttle Television Presenter
Karin Barnard Wife of Professor Chris Barnard
Kerishnie Naicker 1998 Miss South Africa
Sandy McCormack Former Miss South Africa
Amanda Coetzer Top SA tennis star
Michelle McClean Former Miss Universe finalist
Odette & Olivia Scrooby Former Miss SA &/ former Miss SA Finalist
Candice Hillebrand Television presenter
Candice Rabinowitz U-18 World Karate champion
Anne Vine Morris Top international model
Juliana Venter SA opera & rock star
Anita Olckers Pretoria model
THE COMPLETE TRANSITION LIST
MORE THAN 100 WOMEN PHOTOGRAPHED
SOUTH AFRICA 1990 - 2000
Without research and refreshed commentary, much of the transition of South Africa will be forgotten. Journalism can remind in paragraphs and short essays the content of a culture and its rites of passage. The questions then abounded as to what was the climate of 'thinking and acceptability' in the country. What were the cultural stand points of the late eighties that were influencing the start of the nineties? What social mores were revealed that in many cases are unthinkable decades later.?
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The Images appear in the Website's 'TRANSITION' Menus in the chronology of shooting.