Conflict remembered: Jo Ractliffe’s photos of Angola and South Africa

African photography is under the spotlight at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, with a moving exhibition of work produced in the last decade by the South African photographer Jo Ractliffe.

South African photographer Jo Ractliffe (born 1961) explores the themes of conflict, history, memory and displacement with her camera. She has described her work as an attempt to “retrieve a place for memory.”

Ractliffe was born in 1961 in Cape Town and currently lives in Johannesburg. She completed her BAFA and MFA degrees at the University of Cape Town.

Three recent series of photographs are featured in this show, focusing on recent conflict in her native South Africa and neighbouring Angola.

Her earliest series Terreno Ocupado (2007–8) was produced around five years after the end of the Angolan Civil War (1975-2002), during Ractliffe’s first visit to the capital, Luanda. Her images of shantytowns speak of struggle and land occupation, highlighting the vulnerability of the city’s infrastructure post civil war.

Her photographs highlight the imprint that the Portuguese colonial occupation of Angola had on Luanda. She also explores the poor economic conditions of the city today. Carry on reading about the photographer, and see more images of her work, in the latest issue of The Kurios.

Photo: Jo Ractliffe. Woman and her baby, Roque Santeiro market, 2007. From the series Terreno Ocupado. Inkjet print, 2015. On loan from the artist, courtesy Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg. © Jo Ractliffe. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg