Films & Audio


In the first in an occassional series of recorded interviews with artists, curators and other creatives, we can listen to a spoken letter from artist Gavin Jantjes to the curators of Go On Being So, which includes his work Freedom Hunters.

Gavin Jantjes was born in District Six, Cape Town, South Africa in 1948. In 1976 he briefly moved to London and worked with the Poster Collective, a politically motivated group producing posters and banners in response to the miners’ strike and conflicts in Vietnam and Ireland. Jantjes’ A South African Colouring Book, a set of anti-apartheid screen prints, was exhibited at the ICA in London. His exhibition coincided with the infamous 1976 Soweto Uprising in which students between the ages of 10 to 17 protested against the implementation of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction for their lessons rather than the students’ home languages. An estimated 20,000 young people took part nationwide. They were met with fierce police brutality. The number of fatalities has never been confirmed but 150 was the figure most frequently given. Jantjes editioned Freedom Hunters a year later in Hamburg, Germany where he then lived. He describes the political works he produced at this time as “A need to cry rage, yet simultaneously I wanted a voice that could sing a visual song for and of Black people.”

Freedom Hunters contains photos by SA photographers Peter Magubane and George Hallett along with images from international television. It also includes the following poem by Steven Smith:

We’ll evolve
From one germ
Molecule of freedom
Into millions more
We’ll pollute your white air
With Black fury
Till it’s filled
To the brim
White South Africa
We’ll come down
Upon you
As an epidemic
of Black
Freedom hunters

In the podcast Jantjes says “..the students were about your age, they protested and marched and shut their schools down and the state’s reply was to shoot them …if the poem appears rather angry, you can understand why.”