Through Hallett’s Eyes: SA jazz, art, and African literature

Johnny Diany
George Hallett, Johnny Dyani. London, 1979. Courtesy: the artist.

To look, until seeing…
but seeing by way of retrieval,
of resurging images,
buried in unconscious memory.

This is the undefined space where, one day, the archival nature of George Hallett’s photography revealed itself. Immersed in a combination of visual, graphic, and textual elements, there they were, all along, rubbing shoulders with other iconic images, giving texture to some of the famous anti-Apartheid screen-prints created by Gavin Jantjes.

Somehow, this passive act of reconnection triggered a chain reaction, bringing back images encountered in a number of books decades earlier…

These first lines from Christine Eyene latest essay, “George Hallett: the making of an archive”*, retrace the process of remembering images by the South African photographer, encountered during teenage years and revisited decades later in the context of academic research.

For the last instalment of Chimurenga’s Pan African Space Station at The Showroom, Eyene will discuss new elements of her research on Hallett’s portraits of South African exiles, African writers and the diaspora, the re/production of these images for the covers of the seminal Heinemann’s African Writers Series, and their presence in the work of his peers, the artists Gavin Jantjes and Peter E. Clarke.
A visual journey punctuated with South African jazz, a circle with which Hallett was closely involved, notably through the famous Brotherhood of Breath with Chris McGregor, Harry Miller, Dudu Pukwana, Mongezi Feza, Johnny Diany and Louis Moholo who outlived his fellow musicians.

Drawing from memories and current conversations with Hallett, using some of the material displayed at The Chimurenga Library, this presentation will give a glimpse into a larger on-going research developed as part of the Making Histories Visible project at the University of Central Lancashire.

Through Hallett’s Eyes: SA jazz, art, and African literature
on PASS @ The Showroom, Sun 11th Oct, 6:00pm

PASS programme begins at 2:00pm BST

Join us at The Showroom or tune in on www.panafricanspacestation.org.za

Read also: Making Histories Visible, art writing restoring the power of the marginalised by Leila Dee Dougan

* Kerstin Pinther, Berit Fischer, Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi (eds.), New Spaces for Negotiating Art (and) Histories in Africa. Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2015.

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