Billy Monk “Defiance and Decadence Under Apartheid”

The Container

poster for Billy Monk “Defiance and Decadence Under Apartheid”
[Image: Anticlockwise from top: Billy Monk. The Catacombs, 1967; The Catacombs, 3 April 1969; Outside the Catacombs, 14 October 1967; The Catacombs, 3 November 1967. Courtesy of Billy Monk Collection.]

This event has ended.

Defiance and Decadence Under Apartheid, the exhibition of Billy Monk at The Container, launches for the first time the photographer’s works in Asia. The selection of photographs for this exhibition is unique: some are from the original series presented in 1982 at the Market Gallery, some are from a newer series shown in 2019 by the Billy Monk Collection, and some, are showcased for the very first time—images that have never been exhibited before anywhere in the world.

The selection is tailored specifically to Asian audiences and introduces also some images of Japanese and Hong Kongese sailors and Asian tourists who frequented the port of Cape Town, that give insight to the varied and multifarious crowd at The Catacombs. It is a rare opportunity to see what real-life subculture looked like in South Africa during the apartheid era, where individuals were restricted not only for their skin colour, but also for affiliation with other unpopular social groups, such as gays, transgender women, prostitutes, and late night revelers. In Monk’s photographs we can find them all—rubbing shoulders with one another and creating a permissive social bubble, where everything is acceptable and everyone is welcome. It is perhaps ironic to identify in the clutter and disarray the archetypical Japanese salarymen, suited and booted, taking to a bit of late night karaoke, in an embrace with local women, or just passed out on a bench, as if it were the last train on the Yamanote line.

Defiance and Decadence Under Apartheid offers a glimpse of moments of happiness under oppression, and teaches us what we know already—that human spirit, love and acceptance are stronger than any discriminatory rules or restrictions imposed by any governing authorities.

[Related Events] Film screening of A Shot in the Dark (2019) and QA with director / custodian of the Billy Monk Collection, Craig Cameron-Mackintosh
25 October, 20:30-22:00 (RSVP essential, limited seats)



from October 21, 2019 to January 06, 2020

Opening Reception on 2019-10-21 from 19:30 to 21:30


Billy Monk



Jennifer Pastore tablog review

10 Things in Tokyo: November 2019

Events and exhibitions happening this month in Tokyo and beyond

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