Hassan, Kay


South African, b. 1956; lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa


During the apartheid era in South Africa, photographic passbooks controlled the status, movements, and racial classification of black and colored people. In his collages, Negatives 1–6 (2006), Kay Hassan alludes to this dark history and conjures the relationship between memory and identity by using leftover Polaroid backings, or photographic negatives. Discarded outside government office buildings where itinerant photographers made quick identity photos needed for official documents, these transparent remnants form a collection of “haunted” source materials. Many are over- or underexposed errors, the pictured faces further occluded by Hassan’s layered assemblage. Hassan frequently draws upon found materials, combining aspects of mechanical reproduction and personal intervention. Insofar as Negatives amounts to a cross-section of South African workers at specific bureaucratic encounters, these unidentified portraits also describe the regulatory mechanisms of the state as it continues to employ photography as a means of social organization.

Artworks by Hassan, Kay

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