Snapshots of freedom:

Street photography in Cape Town from the 1930s to the 1980s

  • Siona O’Connell Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria, Pretoria.
Keywords: Apartheid, forced removals, photography, archive, freedom, representation


In this article, I look at the “ordinary” (or “everyday”) archive of the racially oppressed, viewing it as an entry point into apartheid afterlives, while arguing for a rethinking of humanness and freedom after racial oppression. I consider the photographs produced by “Movie Snaps” – a street photographic studio of Cape Town, South Africa, that operated between the 1930s and the 1980s – and suggest that looking to previously marginalised narratives can offer insight into larger questions of self-representation, belonging and freedom. The contents of this article are based on a larger research project on forced removals in Cape Town, out of which several exhibitions and two documentary films have been produced to date.