Marc Shoul
Marc Shoul was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa in 1975. He now lives and works in Johannesburg. He works largely in portraiture/documentary photography that observes the complex social issues in his country. Shoul graduated from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University with a B Tec in Photography in 1999. He has had solo exhibitions at South African Jewish Museum, Cape Town (2018), Musee Pierre Noel, Saint Dié des Vosges, France (2017), Blue Sky Gallery, Portland, USA (2015), Extraspaszio Gallery, Rome, Italy (2013), Quai 1, Vevey, Switzerland (2010), Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria, South Africa (2012), Atelier de Visu, Marseille, France (2013), where he also completed an artists’ residency. His work has also been featured at the screenings of Visa Pour L’Image, Perpignan, France and Ankor Photographic Festival, Siem Reap, Cambodia. His work has been published in Shots, Camera Austria and OjodePez magazines, as well as online on Burn Magazine and Leica-Camera websites. He also won WinePhoto photographic competion with “Brakpan” and received honourable mention for “Flatlands” in 2011. His work can be found in the collections of the South African National Gallery, Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum, Port Elizabeth, South Africa as well as The Memmo Foundation, Rome, Italy.
Over 80 per cent of Jewish South Africans are Orthodox. This means that they adhere to 613 commandments, laws and principles that govern many of the routines and rituals of daily life, from diet and observance of the Sabbath, to the study of the Torah and synagogue attendance. The largest Jewish community in the country – and Africa –lives in Johannesburg, South Africa’s ever-evolving economic heartland. Jews, many from Eastern Europe (specifically Lithuania), moved to what became Johannesburg from 1886, when the Witwatersrand gold rush began. They have been part of the fabric of the city from its inception. Nowadays, the 50,000-strong community has deep roots. Orthodox Jews have their own schools, ritual baths, ambulance service, restaurants and a well respected Beth Din, (rabbinical authority). Certain residential suburbs such as Glenhazel are largely Jewish. Landsman is a study of a tight-knit community that, while steeped in tradition, finds itself negotiating the vagaries and flux of life in contemporary South Africa. It is a community that Shoul knows intimately. His maternal great and grandparents fled persecution in Russia and Latvia to settle in South Africa – a country that in turn was to persecute and repress the majority of its citizens. Shoul grew up Orthodox, but his childhood home life was largely secular Shoul’s wife recently converted to Judaism. This required many hours a week of committed study, classes and devotions. For the years it took to be granted the Beth Din Conversion certificate for his wife, Shoul was immersed in the conflicting demands of traditional laws and ordinary life. He also had to reassess his own practice. From being a constant, largely unquestioned backdrop to his life, he could not avoid seeing his religion from the perspective of a potential outsider. This series is in part a study of acceptance and exclusion. While some carry greater resonances, they do not engage directly with political complexities or current affairs. There is something of the claustrophobia and compassion of the family in the series; of a tension between filial duty and rebellion; of bewilderment and pleasure at its strictures. This is the domain of the personal: of exceptionally ordinary spaces, and clothing, and symbols that have seeped into life. Of sheitels (wigs worn by married women) and kosher stickers and Jerusalem souvenirs. Despite the domestic prosaicness, there is a nod to the incongruousness inherent in practicing what are in essence ancient rituals, in contemporary South Africa.

The Addis Foto Fest (AFF) was established in 2010 by award-winning photographer and cultural entrepreneur, Aida Muluneh. The festival is organized by Desta for Africa Creative Consulting PLC. AFF is a biennial international photography festival held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It has previously featured exhibitions, portfolio reviews, conferences, projections and film screenings in many different renowned venues. It is also the first and only international photography festival in East Africa.