'South Africa at Liberty' - Photo Series by Yasser Booley

The Cape Town-born photographer's work documents his community lineage whilst seeking to establish a common vision for the African continent.

Yasser Booley started photographing his environment in 1993 at the age of 17 after receiving a camera from his father. Booley realised early on the capacity of photography

to capture his own perception, of people and events, thus stumbling upon a way to trace his development in the recorded regard of the world around him.

Being self-taught, he insisted on informing his point of view as a response to the situation he found himself in rather than a predetermined goal-oriented approach.

The genre that is most used to categorise his work is Documentary Photography.

Over the years Booley’s style has experienced a growth in the formalising of his subject, preferring environmental portraiture, and the reduced use of the infamous 45-degree photographs.

He started working as a professional photographer in 2003 when he started working for the Mail & Guardian.

He is passionate about narratives and has self-published 2 photo magazines online as well as a number of limited edition hard copy photo books. In 2016 his first monograph ‘South Africa at Liberty’ was launched by Africalia at the Belgian National Theatre in Brussels.

Artist Statement from Yasser's book

'South Africa at Liberty'

South Africa at Liberty is a selection of work from my first photography book that goes by the same title. The book is finally in a series of photography books featuring the work

of sub-Saharan African photographers published by Africalia and Stichting Kunstboek in Belgium.

It is a cross-section of 22 years of photographing people and the various environments I have found myself in, with a view to recording the way I look at my world.

The duration happens to coincide with the time period from just before the abolishing of apartheid (when I was 17 years old and I received my first camera from my father) to the end of the first 2 decades of Democratic South Africa.

Entering the zone of public space with my work, I find that ‘my world’ is looking back in the form of the questions I need to answer for myself regarding the historiography of

my approach to record my existence as much as confirming the legacy and presence of those whose paths I have crossed.

How has my identity been shaped by being Muslim, growing up in the Bo Kaap under the shadow of Table Mountain, during Apartheid and then being old enough to have

voted in the first democratic elections?

Why everyone counts is because, like me, we are the centres of our ‘experiencing’ the universe and in photographing the overwhelming variety of this ‘experiencing’ in the

places and people I have encountered, I slowly tease out the notions, values, beliefs from a constant flux of impressions I contend with daily.

I believe that this distillation has resonance across isms and schisms and beckon to common humanity. I want my work to act as the signage that will eventually arrive at this point of departure."

- Yasser Booley

“An important contribution to the iconography of the everyday life in post-apartheid South Africa, this photographic anthology is marked by an untamed wildness, offering a raw and provocative voice for the vulnerable, broken and misunderstood engaged in a basic struggle for survival on the city margins.“

- Tambu Ndlovu, Art Historian

Yasser has also initiated exhibitions in alternative public spaces. In 2017 he travelled to Dar es Salaam from Cape Town on public transport to document the ‘real African Union’ (Africans crossing borders) in collaboration with a multinational engineering consultancy as part of a design thinking exercise looking at the possibility of a common vision for the continent. The work from this project was exhibited at the first annual general meeting of the WDO (World Design Organisation) in Nairobi.

Thus far he has participated in 3 international residencies, the first one in Zurich with Prohelvetia (3 months), the second in 2017 with Otterbein University in Ohio (2 months) and the third with St.Francis College in Brooklyn New York (2 months)

In 2019 he lead a 2-week workshop in Nairobi with young creatives looking at rewriting the African narrative and exploring the African paradigm.

He currently resides in Cape Town, documenting the ongoing changes in the surrounding communities due to the measures taken to mitigate the spread of Corona as well as the growing movement to produce food locally.



Instagram Handle: @yasserbooley

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