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Heather, 1991
Courtesy of artist Calvin Dondo
SITE 6: Ryneveld Street
Stellebosch Outdoor Photography Exhibition Icon


Established artist and curator, Calvin Dondo was born in 1963. He studied photography at Harare Polytechnic from 1985 – 1988, and his work as a freelance photographer has been published in various local and international publications. Dondo’s photography has the ability to depict the respect he has for the individual identities of his subjects. His passion for storytelling through images earned him wide international acclaim.

Calvin Dondo prides himself on having travelled and how his practice draws from his on the exploration of the different worlds. He always places himself intentionally between the continents of Africa and Europe, where he is in search of his own formal and aesthetic positions. When he takes pictures, he can completely remove his physical presence with astonishing ease and take himself behind his own view as he takes his pictures. His works as a young photographer were encountered by foreign media and photo agencies looking to publish images from this very special, still all too rare perspective that shows appreciation for the people of Africa, particularly for Zimbabwe.

In 2000 Dondo established Gwanza, a contemporary photographic platform to promote reflection on the role of photography in society and to encourage young artists to explore the discipline and to develop their gaze. Dondo also developed the “Month of Photography” which brings extraordinary photographers from Southern Africa to Zimbabwe every year.

In 2003 he curated the Zimbabwean photography exhibition at “Rencontres de Bamako'', the photography biennale in Mali. In 2011 he represented Zimbabwe at the 54th Venice Biennale and has exhibited his works at the Havana Biennale, Paris Photo and multiple times at Bamako (African Photography Biennale) as well as at museums around the world. Dondo has exhibited at the Havana Biennale, Paris Photo and multiple times at Bamako Encounters (African Photography Biennale). He has also exhibited work at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Detroit), Yokohama Museum of Modern Art (Japan), Manchester City Art Gallery, Salzburg Modern Art Museum and the Centre for Contemporary Art in Barcelona. 


Foremost among the talents that have brought Calvin Dondo international recognition is the ability to put into his work all the respect he has for the individual identities of those he captures on film. This artist who reveals the nature of Zimbabwe today freely tells us of his country and the history concealed within it.

Dondo has won a number of awards including the Seydou Keïta Prize (Grand Prize at Bamako Encounters) in 2007, the Konrad Adenauer Special Press Prize. His work forms part of collections of Institutions such as the Museum of Volkerkunde and the Johannesburg Art Gallery. His photographs have been collected by private collectors in Europe and at home in Zimbabwe. His first monograph Hodhii Zimbabwe was published in 2014.


Freedom, I dream up for myself and others.
Inkululeko, ndiphuphela mna nabanye.
Vryheid, ek droom vir myself en ander.

Freedom, I dream up for myself and others, is an exploration of a visual language that bridges gaps between cultures, creates understanding, and inspires empathy and connection. This photographic presentation transcends language barriers and allows people to convey ideas and concepts using imagery and visual cues.


The works selected in this exhibition are intended to be more mindful of the subtleties of our dreams and how we view the world. The works are intended to resonate with us all, and with the medium of photography it does so in its purest form, it does not distort.


Photography is a tool that never warps or ages. This medium teaches us to look, to look again, and to do so harder. This visual universal language has the ability to change perception, encourage understanding, and create a sense of urgency when needed. It has been the reason to incite human action and at other times to inspire human connection.


This exhibition explores the Masters of Photography who draw inspiration from the African continent. It encourages the audience to foster meaningful dialogue in investigating the archive. The artists have pushed boundaries within the medium of photography and created works that have stood the test of time. Archives are not just windows into the past, they are the authentic creations of individual people who lived before us and still live among us. They are the archaeology that was never buried.


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