Promises and Lies

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Promises and Lies: The ANC, Exile & The Project of Freedom

11 May - 9 June 2017

The Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre (VIAD) presented this 2017 exhibition showcasing the dismantling of apartheid. This 1989-1990 period of change is placed in contrast to the 2015-2017 turning point in the South African climate – charged by student-lead protests aimed at forms of institutionalized racism and the slow pace of transformation in universities; the increasing proliferation of service-delivery protests across the country; and in general, a growing disenchantment with the social imaginaries of ‘Rainbowism’ and the ‘New South Africa.’ In addition, charges of corruption, mismanagement, and state capture have brought the Government and the integrity of the ANC into disrepute.

Commissioned by the ANC, taken by award-winning British photographer Laurie Sparham and collated by curator and filmmaker Dr. Siona O’Connell, the photographs in this exhibition chronicle the experience of ANC exiles living in Tanzania and Zambia from 1989-1990. Shelved for over twenty-five years, this important photographic archive speaks to the aspirations of the liberation struggle – and, in the interests of as-of-yet unrealized freedom, poses difficult questions about history and its resonances in the present. The exhibition featured a probing documentary by O’Connell titled ‘Promises & Lies – Fault Lines in the ANC’.