Tadkeshwar, 1995.
Children playing, Woldia
Disabled worker. Lorne street, 1981
Teacher with Class, Inanda

Meqoqo: He Forces Us All To See Differently - Omar Badsha In Conversation By Linda Fekisi

Omar Badsha, considered a pioneer of “resistance art”, is one of South Africa’s most celebrated documentary photographers. He has exhibited extensively at home and abroad and is our guest this week in our occasional Meqoqo (Conversations) slot. Iziko Museums is currently hosting a retrospective exhibition entitled Seedtime at the National Gallery in Cape Town. It showcases Badsha’s early drawings, artworks and photographic essays, spanning a period of 50 years. The epitome of the self-taught professional, he currently runs SA History Online (SAHO).

One-Man Revolution: Omar Badsha's Latest Exhibition has been called a landmark by Sean O'Toole, 18 July 2015

“I was terrified putting this thing up,” said photographer Omar Badsha one Saturday in early June. He was referring to the process of self-curating his astonishing career survey exhibition, Seedtime, on at the Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town. “I wasn’t sure it would work.” Wearing a blue ball cap and sober business shirt, Badsha was addressing an audience gathered to listen a group of panelists make sense of his work, which spans five decades and includes woodcuts, pencil and crayon drawings and photographs. Based on their qualified feedback, his fears were unfounded.

The visibility of invisible moments by Ashraf Jamal

IT WAS English art critic John Berger who said: "The true content of a photograph is invisible, for it derives from a play not with form, but with time." His interpretation is of particular relevance to the work of Omar Badsha, a trade unionist, activist, and artist who, since the 1960s, has devoted himself to recording the workers’ struggle, the plight of the disenfranchised, and the longing for a truly nonracial, democratic settlement in SA.

Praise poem for the photographer Omar Badsha by Neelika Jayawardane

Emmanuel Kant would have been distraught if he were to see Omar Badsha’s work.

Neither great beauties nor scenic vistas meant to evoke sublime pleasure were the focus of Badsha’s camera. His eye—sharp and contentious as his tongue is known to be—cuts through the cultural baggage that trains us to look at the beautiful and the acceptably pretty.

Selected publications

Published Date: 1972
A photographic essay on the forced removals in Inanda, Natal
Published Date: 1985
Published Date: 1985
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