George Hallett : Same Same but Different

Gallery MOMO , Cape Town, South Africa
20 Aug 2015 - 26 Sep 2015

George Hallett : Same Same but Different

GEORGE HALLETT, Pleading With Debt Collector, 1968

Gallery MOMO announces Same Same but Different, a solo exhibition by George Hallett at Gallery MOMO, Cape Town.

The expression “Same Same but Different” was developed by local Thai people to help explain their language to foreigners. The Thai language includes 9 different tonalities. One sound in Thai has the potential to create a range of different meanings. “Same Same but Different” provides us with leniency in language and has given us a light-hearted and simple saying that is applicable to many aspects in life: politics, relationships, education and entertainment to name a few. Life is a collective human experience: we age, we survive, we work, we reproduce, we die, yet our lives are all unique and each of us has an individual experience shared by no other.

An expression such as this is most applicable to George Hallett, one of South Africa’s most significant photographers best known for photographing the country’s turbulent history from the Apartheid era and its exiled community of artists through to the transitional stages of our Democracy. Hallett’s interest in photography was sparked after browsing through copies of National Geographic magazines. He started as a self-taught street photographer and decided to study a correspondence course through City and Guilds in London to further his skills. Hallett documented the streets and life of District Six before its destruction and later free-lanced for Drum Magazine before deciding, due to the country’s bleak state, to move to London in 1970.

While there, he worked for The Times Educational Supplement and designed book covers for Heinemann Educational Books for over 12 years. He had his first solo exhibition in Paris with Gerard Sekoto and Louis Maurice in 1971. During his time abroad he documented life in the French Pyrenees Mountains which earned him an award from the Hasselblad Foundation for outstanding contributions to photography in 1983. He later returned to South Africa to officially photograph the first Democratic elections.

One of his many achievements includes collaborating with the Nobel Peace Centre towards a travelling exhibition of South African Nobel Peace laureates Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela. Hallett’s work is included in a many private and institutional collections and has exhibited internationally on a number of occasions.

The Exhibition will be featuring an installation by the Burning Museum, “COVER VERSION”

“Cover Version” is a collage conversation drawing on fragements and found objects, photographs and Photoshop. The exhibition pays homage to George Hallet’s extensive album and book cover designs, a lesser known part of his prodigious photographic career. The collective has been inspired by many of these covers especially that of iconic jazz bands in exile such as the Blue Notes and the Brotherhood of Breath, the members of which Hallet knew and photographed intimately. The collective have inventively reimagined, reworked and remixed Hallet’s archive resulting in new cover versions which revisit the aesthetic of exile with the insight of the post-marikana epoch

The Burning Museum (BM) is a collaborative interdisciplinary collective rooted in Cape Town, South Africa. Members of the Burning Museum include: Justin Davy, Jarrett Erasmus, Tazneem Wentzel, Grant Jurius and Scott Williams.

“The space which we find ourselves in is one which has been scarred and seared by a historical trajectory of violent exclusions and silences. These histories form the foundation of an elusive and at times omnipotent democracy that occasionally reveals its muscle in the form of laws and by-laws in public space. It is from this historical climate and present context that the work of the Burning Museum engages with themes such as history, identity, space, and structures. We are interested in the seen and unseen, the stories that linger as ghosts on gentrified street corners; in opening up and re-imagining space as potential avenues into the layers of history that are buried within, under, and between.”

The Burning Museum recently exhibited at the Kunsthaus Dresden, Germany in a group exhibition titled, “Boundary Objects”. The exhibition aims to focus on the potential of objects to surpass established contexts and meanings.

Same Same but Different opens at Gallery MOMO, Cape Town | 6 – 8pm | 20 August until 26 September 2015