Chris Ledochowski

Chris Ledochowski was born in Pretoria in 1956 and grew up in Johannesburg. He attended boarding school at Waterford - Kamhlaba in Swaziland. After completing military service he studied at Michaelis School of Find Art, University of Cape Town majoring in Photography (1977-1980). In the early 1980s he joined the Afrapix photographic collective. He contributed to the Second Carnegie inquiry into Poverty and Development and worked closely with the S.A. Labour Development Unit at UCT. Apart from documenting the ongoing struggles and strife in the communities on the Cape Flats he dedicated much of his work to documenting the formation and development of the Congress of South African Trade Unions and related worker organizations within the Western Cape. While photographing in the townships he also took on commissioned portraits, which he hand coloured for his subjects. His long standing experience and relationship with these communities drew him further into recording their various cultural and sub-cultural expressions. Since 1994 he has covered the townships almost exclusively in colour for political, aesthetic and documentary reasons.

Apart from his ongoing work in townships and long-term rural projects he is regularly invited to collaborate on group projects and contribute to national and international exhibitions. He continues to work as a freelance photographer in Cape Town.

Exhibition: Cape Flats Details

Chris Ledochowski undertook a long term project to document the art and cultures of the Cape Flats townships which he began in the late 1980s. The entire project was photographed on colour transparency. This culminated in the publication of the book Cape Flats Details in 2003.  That year Ledochowski was invited to exhibit a series of photographs from the project Cape Flats Details at the 50th Venice Biennale. His essay was part of an exhibition �The Structure of Survival�, curated by Carlos Basualdo.

In 2003 a solo exhibition of Cape Flats Details was held at Michael Stevenson Contemporary in Cape Town and at Photo za in Johannesburg. The work was later exhibited at the Polish Institute in Paris, France, as part of the Mois de la photo in 2004. The group exhibition- Autres Lieux, Autres Regards, Pologne-Afrique - featured Polish photographers in Africa from past to present; Jan Czekanowski, Casimir Zagourski, Ryszard Kapuscinski and Chris Ledochowski.  Cape Flats Details was also exhibited at The Visiting Gallery in Warsaw, Poland in 2005.

"In the townships, I focused my attention on capturing - through photography - the dignity with which people were surviving and challenging their oppressive living conditions, The energy and soul of this struggle drew inspiration from the growing climate of political defiance. A collective desire for change gave people purpose and direction. I found that even in the midst of this modern political struggle, people still drew primarily on their traditional cultures and religious convictions, using them as outlets for creative expression. This project attempts to capture expressions of that process," says Ledochowski.

"Cape Flats" refers to the vast stretch of exposed sandy wetlands that lie north of Table Mountain and which now forms a large part of the metropolitan region of Cape Town. Racked by the harsh south-easter and frequently flooded in winter, the Cape Flats is highly unsuitable for residential purposes. But today it has become home to close on a million people.  The use of the term "Details" stands in contrast to the general appearance of the townships as a bleak and colourless environment - an environment which over time, challenges one to seek and unveil hidden layers. It is in these "details" that Ledochowski found individual and collective expression of creativity and resilience that give positive meaning and definition to peoples' lives.  His works present public and private images of hope that bring together and convey tradition and modernity, stability and change, faith and despair. Against the rigid domination by apartheid, so physically represented in the construction of township living spaces, people created and nurtured a culture that was under their control.