Ernest Cole: House of Bondage
Photographs by Ernest Cole
First published in 1967, Ernest Cole’s House of Bondage has been lauded as one of the most significant photobooks of the twentieth century, revealing the horrors of apartheid to the world for the first time and influencing generations of photographers around the globe.
Ernest Cole (born in Transvaal, South Africa, 1940; died in New York, 1990) is best known for House of Bondage, a photobook published in 1967 that chronicles the horrors of apartheid. After fleeing South Africa in 1966, he became a “banned person,” settling in New York. He was associated with Magnum Photos and received funding from the Ford Foundation to undertake a project looking at Black communities and cultures in the United States. Cole spent an extensive time in Sweden and became involved with the Tiofoto collective. He died at age forty-nine of cancer. In 2017, more than 60,000 of Cole’s negatives—missing for more than forty years—resurfaced in Sweden.
Mongane Wally Serote is a renowned South African poet and writer, inaugurated in 2018 as South Africa’s national poet laureate.
Oluremi C. Onabanjo is an associate curator in the Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The former director of exhibitions and collections for the Walther Collection, New York, Onabanjo has organized exhibitions across Africa, Europe, and North America, and managed one of the most significant private collections of photography in the world. In 2017, she cocurated Recent Histories: Contemporary African Photography and Video Art and edited its accompanying publication, which was shortlisted in 2018 for an ICP Infinity Award in Critical Writing and Research. Onabanjo lectures internationally on photography and curatorial practice, and her writing appears in Aperture, The New Yorker, The PhotoBook Review, Tate Etc., as well as publications by the Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Rhode Island School of Design, Museum of Art, Providence; and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; among others. A 2020 Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers grantee, Onabanjo is the editor of the forthcoming photobook Marilyn Nance: Last Day in Lagos (2022). She is a PhD candidate in art history at Columbia University, New York, and holds degrees in visual, material, and museum anthropology from Oxford University, England, and African studies from Columbia University, New York.
James Sanders is a journalist, researcher, and scholar. He has written extensively on South African politics, in such books as South Africa and the International Media, 1972-1979: A Struggle for Representation (1999) and Apartheid’s Friends: The Rise and Fall of South Africa’s Secret Service (2006). He worked as a research specialist on Anthony Sampson’s Mandela: The Authorised Biography (1999), and on numerous documentary films, including Mandela: The Living Legend (2003) and Mandela’s Gun (2016). He served as a guest editor of Noseweek and was the founding editor of Molotov Cocktail. Sanders has concentrated his research on the life of Ernest Cole.
Number of pages: 232
Number of images: 227
Publication date: 2022-12-13
Measurements: 8.4 x 11.4 x 0.94 inches