The International Biennale of Casablanca (Biennale Internationale de Casablanca) continues its 2020 incubation programme at the BIC Project Space with the exhibition GEORGE HALLETT: sound . text . image This is the first ever showcase in Morocco of the work by the South African photographer revealed to the world with his portraits of Nelson Mandela during his presidential campaign in the first South African democratic elections in 1994. Images that earned him a World Press Photo Award in 1995.
Born in Cape Town in 1942, George Hallett began his career in the mid-sixties as a street photographer under the guidance of Jacky Heyns, Cape Town editor of the famous Drum magazine. In 1966, when the Apartheid government declared District Six, a culturally-mixed neighborhood of Cape Town, as a White Area, the young photographer, encouraged by the writer and artist Peter E. Clarke and the protest poet James Matthews, decided to use his camera to document the life of the area before the forced removals and demolition began.
District Six, a thriving mixed and black cultural hotspot in South Africa in the fifties and sixties, is also the place where Hallett’s encounters literature through his English teacher, the writer Richard Rive. It is also at Matthews, a native of this neighborhood, that Hallett was exposed to African-American jazz for the first time, and discovered the work of pioneering photographer Roy DeCarava and the writing of Langston Hughes, a seminal figure of the Harlem Renaissance.
The impact of these first cultural experiences is reflected throughout George Hallett’s photographic practice within which are inscribed the themes of South African jazz and African literature. Portraits of musicians such as Johnny Dyani, Chris McGregor, Hugh Masekela, Louis Moholo or Dudu Pukwana; writers Chinua Achebe, Mariama Bâ, Nadine Gordimer, Bessie Head, Wole Soyinka; photographs of performances at the Langa Jazz Festival or at the legendary 100 Club in London; compositions imagined for the covers of Heinemann’s African Writers Series: the works put together for this exhibition, dating from the sixties to eighties, reveal a striking dialogue between photography, music and literature.
Rare books, which covers created by Hallett are the medium of sometimes “theatrical” visual compositions, present a different aspect of an artistic practice open to graphic design. This link between literature and image-making processes is one of the anchors of the 5th International Biennale of Casablanca entitled “The words create images”.
This exhibition is organised in collaboration with Making Histories Visible, a multidisciplinary research project based at the University of Central Lancashire.
GEORGE HALLETT : sound . text . image
27 February – 27 June 2020
BIC Project Space
30, rue El Hajeb
BIC Project Space is currently closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic.
View the exhibition photo gallery