In a fish trap
The Fisherfolk of Kosi Bay
The Fisherfolk of Kosi Bay formed part of the first ever exhibition in the Centre for photography Gallery during the 1999 Cape Town Month of Photography.
"When I first began photographing the lives of the fishing communities in Kosi Bay in the late 1980s and early 1990s, their relationship with the conservation authorities was often tense and conflictual. An air of uncertainty prevailed and talk of removals was on everybody's mind. One had the overwhelming sense that here was another indigenous group of people and their traditions who will simply disappear behind a fence to make way for yet another game park to be enjoyed by the privileged.
It was for these reasons, I decided to document their traditional fishtrapping techniques, their culture and how they lived with nature. In the many trips I made over a number of years, I spent a week to ten days at a time, living with the fishing community of Nkovakeni, often visiting other villages in the area. These photographs record my experiences.
Since then, exciting developments have begun to take place: There is no longer talk
of removals. Negotiation, participation, shared management and benefits
have become points of common interest between the people and conservation
Text by Paul Weinberg
Alongside "The Fisherfolk of Kosi Bay" by Paul Wienberg, British Coastline was exhibited in the Centre for photography Gallery during the 1999 Cape Town Month of Photography
The sea has had a profound influence on the shaping of British history and continues to play a part in our evolving sense of national identity(ies). The sea encloses and separates us as a country, and in doing so it symbolically binds us together - as disparate as we are. In defining a geographical space that is "apart", the sea also begs a series of questions: What makes us unique? What brings us here? What makes us stay?
The ragged coastline cradles our negotiations with the sea, emotional and physical.
It is a place (stretched over many different social contexts) where we
come to shed life's unnecessary burdens, to be who we are, or to fantasise
along these lines. It is a place of greetings and farewells, of longing,
parting; a place of tranquillity and of dramatic elemental forces.
In this space his pictures dwell on people in moments when identities and relationships
might be betrayed, or when they might be formed.
Bringing together these people and the fragments of an already haphazard landscape of coastal structures and forms, Mehta has created a remarkable portrait of Britain searching for itself: clinging to the past, uncertain of the future, gazing out to sea.
Text by David Chandler, February 1999