Breathing Spaces


Rhodes University lecturer, Jenny Gordon, hosted the exhibition Breathing Spaces which was held at Monument in Grahamstown during the National Arts Festival. Gordon has been working with historian, Marijke du Toit from the University of the Western Cape’s Faculty of Arts. Extracts from interviews with du Toit accompany Gordon’s photographs.

Breathing Spaces_2
Photo by Megs Kelly

The photographs presented in Gordon’s exhibition are a series of photographs of residents from South Durban. The exhibit features a selection of images from her book Breathing Spaces: Environmental Portraits of Durban’s Industrial South, published last year.

Gordon is passionate about her work and draws the inspiration for her photography from her environment and the people around her, asserting that photographic images have the capacity to move and challenge us. The collection also has abstract pieces which describe reality from a symbolic perspective.

The collection features portraits and panoramic landscapes that are are interleaved with reproductions from personal family albums. Gordon’s photographs are dynamic and this collection also includes photographs taken by her at a younger age.

One of her pieces portrays a woman in a room surrounded by a few men. This is a powerful image describing poverty. The woman shares a room with a multiple men because she cannot afford to live anywhere else.

Another moment captured by Gordon is a landscape depicting an impoverished community. The subject photographed is a social worker who enjoys supporting his community and helping them through difficult times.

Gordon is a third year photojournalism lecturer in the department of Journalism and Media Studies. As well as lecturing, Gordon freelances and receives funding from her exhibited works and has been in the industry for more than fifty years.

Yolisa Ndzombane