A Constructed Documentary Project on the Young Afrikaner by Roelof Petrus van Wyk

This project Documents  Young Afrikaners. A Massive shift from a State Owned, and Sanctioned, National Identity during Apartheid, to a Self-determined, Narrative, Plural and Personal Identity, steeped in Culture – Language, Music and Visual Arts – has occurred during the last decade. This group finds itself wedged between an inherited Caucasian/ European-, and a new African Nationalist worldview. Weaving these two world views into a coherent social-, political- and cultural reality is an ongoing existential challenge. This photo project not only turns the the lens onto the Afrikaners by themselves, but also asks bigger questions about belonging to Africa and their place as Africans.

-Roelof Petrus van Wyk, 2011

contact: privatevanwyk.roelofpetrus(at)

Yo-Landi Vi$$er

Koos Groenewald

Daniel Swanepoel


Latest Exposure:



Figures and Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography 12 April – 17 July 2011, V&A, London

The first UK exhibition of contemporary South African photography from the last ten years will be shown at the V&A this spring. Figures and Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography will feature over 150 works by some of the most exciting and inventive photographers living and working in South Africa today.

The exhibition will present the vibrant and sophisticated photographic culture that has emerged in post-apartheid South Africa. The works on display respond to the country’s powerful rethinking of issues of identity across race, gender, class and politics. The photographs depict people within their individual, family and community lives, practicing religious customs, observing social rituals, wearing street fashion or existing on the fringes of society. All the photographers question what it is to be human at this time in South Africa.

The 17 photographers in the exhibition range from established practitioners David Goldblatt and Santu Mofokeng, mid-career stars Pieter Hugo and Zwelethu Mthethwa to a new generation, fresh to the international stage, including Zanele Muholi and Hassan and Husain Essop. Each photographer will be represented by one or more series that imaginatively question the conventions of portraiture, ethnographic studies or documentary photography.

Co-curator Martin Barnes said: “This exhibition will show the range and variety of politically-engaged fine art photography arising from a captivating period in South Africa’s history. These photographers are at the forefront of photography emerging anywhere in the world today and we are delighted to gather them all together for this first major exhibition showcase of the contemporary South African scene.”

All aspects of life including sex, ethnicity, race, gender, religion, occupation and class were regulated by law until the end of Apartheid rule in South Africa in 1994. For nearly 50 years the separation of races was enforced, with people categorised into ‘black’, ‘white’ and ‘coloured’.

As the first wave of post-apartheid euphoria has begun to fade, the country’s photographers are responding to the challenges of establishing a pure democracy in South Africa’s fascinating and fraught political context. Many of the works represent subjects who compose themselves for the camera, asserting new-found dignity and distinction. Some works in the exhibition reference the types of anthropological study that was historically used to classify people into fixed racial and ethnic groups after photography arrived in South Africa in 1840.

In the struggle against Apartheid, photography was used by activists as a documentary medium and contemporary South African photographers self-consciously engage with this history by documenting South African life but also inviting the viewer to read their own stories into the works.

Figures and Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography is co-curated by Tamar Garb, Professor of Art History at University College London and Martin Barnes, Senior Curator of Photographs at the V&A.


Spier Contemporary Finalist 2010


“Drawing Links” Group Show, Art on Paper, 2010


Atri Documentary Festival, Italy, “After A” – Group Show curated by Federica Angelucci.


International Photo Awards, Lucie Foundation, Deeper Perspective Finalist, 2010      +


Historic exposure:

Photographic Group Show, PhotoZA, 2003

SHOW US WHAT YOU”RE MADE OF (ii) Group Show at the Premises 2004

Merit award winner, New Signatures 2004

Finalist, New Signatures 2005

Brett Kebble Awards Finalist 2005

Spier Contemporary Finalist 2007

About the Artist:

Full name: Roelof Petrus van Wyk


Current residence: Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

Date and place of birth: 11 March 1969, South Africa

Education / training: B.Arch (UP, 1995), South Africa

12 responses to “

      • I have read alot why there are white people in South Africa. It was the europeans who came to to the Cape in 1652. The Ducth people who made a camp there on the way to India. Alot of them stayed in the cape and became farmers.- It was really a misunderstanding.! Africa was a black continent, and Europe a white ditto. Later the british indvaded South Africa. And yes, to day your are white africaners qua the history. -Otherways you still would be europeans.

        I am european and scandinavian, from Denmark

  1. As an outsider looking in, having recently enjoyed a brief encounter with the intriguing city of Capetown, I have to commend you for your honest and interesting work here. Thanks for creating this fine work which has stimulated dialogue and I hope further deepen my limited understanding of a culturally diverse country plagued by the fall-out of systemic racism.

  2. Interesting work but I do think that the photographic group (and title) are trying to force the concept of blondish, whitish Afrikaners not really fitting into the African landscape. Most Afrikaners I know (including my own family of Van Niekerks) are darker people clearly showing the mixing -since before 1700- of darker slave mothers from Bengal, Angola, India, and Goa with men from Europe. So the question becomes; where are your darker Afrikaners?

    • Of course there are. Many many. The project has over 100 portraits, with only a small selection on here.
      And no, its absolutely not forcing any point about blond people. It opens up a discussion of white people, their so- called whiteness and how Afrikaners are engaging with Africa, defining their place as white African people.
      View for a deeper perspective.

  3. Thanx for representing the Afrikaner as a sophisticated thought through image, not a stereotyped redneck in khaki clothing. I love your work! My mother is a van Wyk and my cousin is a split image of you- quite disconcerting in fact! Thanx for documenting our heritage in this way!

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