A powerful new exhibition that uncovers the mystery, pain, anger and stories of forgotten police cells in the historic city of Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Running for a week between April 9th and 14th, Freedom of Expression is a collection of work from celebrated South African photographer, Karl Schoemaker. Schoemaker has captured the long abandoned Baakens Police Station which is nestled behind the sleepy-harbour city’s City Hall, to share its history and stories with the world.
Schoemaker captured the images alone across three-months, mindful to never spend more than three hours in the cells, afraid of becoming desensitised to the enormity of the history recorded on the walls: “The place was dark and dank, and to shoot the cells properly, I always closed the heavy cell doors which gave me the feeling of being trapped. An insight into what the captured felt. At other times I would go down and simply read the stories scratched into the walls, not photographing anything. But sitting with their energy, imagining the emotions they felt.”
The exhibition is supported by The Linbury Trust and produced by the Moving Assembly Project, a not for profit which connects people, artists and students from diverse global backgrounds and communities through the arts. Co-curator of the exhibition and Artistic Director of Moving Assembly, Dane Hurst, says: “The historical context of these images and the trauma they hold is only a small element of what South Africa endured. They sit beside images that capture the lives of South Africa’s youth and the freedom they have to express their experience of the world. Working with young people and empowering them has such a profound effect on our collective futures. Seeing the positive outcomes of this work says so much about the nature of hope, perseverance and the power of the artist in the community.”
The exhibition will also feature poetry by London poet LyricL Nkechi and photography from Moving Assembly Project students who have taken part in workshops in South Africa under the tutelage of Schoemaker.
There will be associated free workshops for young people and a panel discussion on ‘The Power of the Artist in the Community’ on Saturday 13 April @ 3-5pm.Return