Photographs and text by Paul Weinberg

With an introduction by Paul Weinberg

With a foreword by Prof. Karen Leigh Harris (UP)

First published by ESI Press 2021

ISBN: 978-0-620-95645-1 (Print)
ISBN: 978-0-620-95646-8 (E-book/digital)

Earth Songs explores and celebrates spiritual connections to the land in South Africa. While the ownership of “land” in this country is a highly contested issue, people have long marked and celebrated their spiritual connections to the land in ways that signify and re-imagine what it means for a variety of its inhabitants. Such meaning-making often etches the landscape, turning it into a natural canvass through which layered stories, manifest or buried, are expressed.

In quiet ways beyond the news and headlines, people of all traditions, persuasions, faiths and spiritual engagements partake in formal and informal rituals that mark the land in ways that align with their beliefs. They may go on pilgrimages, or re-ritualise places of archaeological, historical and cultural significance. Such rituals may take place in makeshift places of worship, in caves, next to rivers, or in churches, temples and mosques. In some instances, these spiritual sites are well-known, like Mount Nhlangakazi, the endpoint of a 50 km pilgrimage for thousands of followers of the Ibanda lamaNazaretha (Shembe Church). In others, as in the case of Twee Rivieren, where a small statue at the confluence of the Swart and Liesbeek rivers in Cape Town pays homage to the brave Goringhaiqua Khoi who defeated the first colonisers in 1510, these sites are less known. The lesser-known sites often tell stories of contest and simultaneous spiritual significance that need to be told more volubly and heard more widely.

My project explores many of these lesser-known, lesser-recognised, off-the-beaten-track, unusual sites of spiritual practice and ritual, bringing to the surface histories that are often  muted or erased. Collectively, this work is an amalgam of spiritual connections to our land that celebrates our diversity, engages with our past and, for many, transcends the everyday. This project complements and expands on the extensive book I did on rituals and spiritual practice called Moving Spirit (1996–2006). It hopefully offers another way of understanding our country and reflects the essence of spirituality that lies deeply embedded in our land.

Paul Weinberg

Musings in Muizenberg

Photographs and text by Paul Weinberg

With an introduction by Paul Weinberg

Backline Press, 2019

ISBN 978-0-620-84781-0

From the Introduction: In Muizenberg you are never far from the beach, metaphorically or literally. The constant ebb and flow of waves, the smell and sounds of the ocean, the wind on your face, all entice you to forget. Forget you are in Muizenberg, forget you are in South Africa. Put aside, momentarily our troubled past that erodes into the present. Forget, if you can, try and forget and allow yourself to celebrate the beauty around you. Give yourself permission to step back and free wheel. To dream, to fly like a bird, to get lost and be found.

Traces and Tracks

Photographs and text by Paul Weinberg

With an introductory essay by Megan Biesele

Jacana, 2017

ISBN 978-1-4314-2431-3

From the Introduction: My work has over the past 30 years sought to work against an essentialised, mythologised view of the San. But for those who have grappled with the story of the modern San, it is neither monolythic nor one dimensional. My journey has brought me into contact with a range of exceptional people from NGO activists to development workers, from journalists and filmakers to academics who work with the San, and like me, have grappled to answer questions for a fragile culture and attempt to tell their story. The 113 000 San live in three different countries and speak many different languages. While dispossession seems to be a common thread, the story of the San differs from region to region, place to place, community to community. The exhibition and book engage with San communities, and attempts to document how recent chapters of history present new challenges and opportunities.

Dear Edward: Family Footprints

Paul Weinberg

Jacana, 2012

ISBN 978-1-4314-0554-1

From the introduction: This book is a personal journey into the family archives of photographer Paul Weinberg. Childhood sorties into an old black trunk uncovered family postcards, stamps, letters and photographs that excited his imagination about what lay beyond his South African world. These memorabilia connected Weinberg to both his grandparents’ roots in eastern Europe and his own roots in South Africa, and prompted an exploration of his family’s footprints in far-flung small towns in the interior. In the form of postcards to his great-grandfather Edward, it is both a visual narrative of this journey and a multilayered travel book which pieces together the jigsaw puzzle of his family’s history, and asks important questions about who writes history and who is left out.

Then and Now

Paul Weinberg

Highveld Press, 2008

ISBN 978-0-620-4232-74

Initiated and curated by Paul Weinberg, Then and Now is a major project featuring the work of eight South African photographers whose careers have straddled South Africa’s transition to democracy. The other contributors are David Goldblatt, George Hallett, Eric Miller, Cedric Nunn, Guy Tillim, Graeme Williams and Gisele Wulfsohn. Most were members of the of Afrapix and part of the anti-apartheid collective photographic movement of the 1980’s.

“The anthology is a also a reunion of a community of photographers who have known each for many years and were all associated with a particular photographic movement in the turbulent 1980s and early 1990s. Then and Now is a journey shared by of all of us who have recorded, observed and lived through those extraordinary times.”

Moving Spirit

Spirituality in Southern Africa

Paul Weinberg

Mets & Schilt / Double Storey, 2006

ISBN: 978-177013-100-2

From the introduction: ‘My approach has been to allow the camera to narrate the journey of spirituality, following a range of events and rituals that in some way reflects the moving spirit running through my country and southern Africa. This is no attempt at an A-Z of religions in the region but rather a personal quest, documenting the spiritual practices I have chosen to connect with. Our country in recent years has been through a process of national healing, with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Hidden atrocities were brought into the open to reveal the truth, to heal, forgive and move on. I, too, with or without my camera, am part of a country trying to heal itself. In this journey I join millions of South Africans on a continuous pilgrimage beyond politics and platitudes … in search of the transcendent spirit.’

Travelling Light

Paul Weinberg

UKZN Press, 2004

ISBN 1-86914-056-7

From the backtext: Paul Weinberg is one of South Africa’s foremost documentary photographers. This special collection offers a candid retrospective of his personal and professional journey. It takes us back in time to his photographic beginnings in the streets of Johannesburg in the late 1970s and carries us through to the more contemporary landscapes of rural South Africa. Captured with characteristic empathy, and supported by extracts from his personal diaries, these images bring to life the forgotten moments of our social and historical past, and the ordinary people who inhabited it. Travelling Light is, above all, a testament to the extraordinariness of ordinary humanity, lovingly recorded by a photographer who brings his own component of personal engagement to each photographic moment.

Durban: impressions of an African city

Paul Weinberg, David Robbins and Gcina Mhlope

Porcupine Press, 2003

ISBN 0-620-28789-6

From the backtext: Durban is a city of contrasts, contradictions, cultural diversity, and challenges. Venturing beyond the cliches and stereotypes, book takes you into the heart of South Africa and Africa. Reflected through the architecture, culture and people, both indigenous and ‘indigenised’, the soul of the city is revealed. Written by award-winning travel writer David Robbins and acclaimed storyteller Gcina Mhlope, and observed by renowned documentary photographer Paul Weinberg, this is an unusual travel book with perceptive insights into one of Africa’s most interesting cities.

Once We Were Hunters

A journey with Africa’s indigenous people

Photographs by Paul Weinberg; texts by Dhyani Berger, Chenderai Hove, Margaret Jacobsohn, Antjie Krog, Gcina Mhlope, Victor Munnik, Paul Ntiati, Sergio Veigo and Tony Weaver

Mets & Schilt, Amsterdam / Novib, Brussels / David Philip, Cape Town 2000

ISBN 0-86486-371-3

From the backtext: Once We Were Hunters journeys to six different countries in southern and eastern Africa to examine those indigenous communities who, in spite of a rapidly modernising continent, are still managing to survive in their natural environment. Since an estimated 75% of African wildlife lives outside the recognised game reserves, the preservation of its fauna and flora has become a community issue. The old-fashioned practice of creating reserves by removing local people is something of the past, and new relationships are being explored. But the emerging ethos of joint management and shared benefits is more widely heard than practised. Africa’s precious natural heritage remains an important asset for the planet, and at the same time a major source of attraction for global tourism. But what about the people? Once We Were Hunters addresses these important issues, and in so doing offers a very different way of seeing Africa. Through inspired photographs and text, the book explores the complex relationships between culture and environment. We hear authentic voices expressing ancient value systems and affiliations in our fast-moving world. Written by African writers, some celebrated and award-winning, and with photographs by the renowned documentary photographer Paul Weinberg, this collection of stories and pictures offers a unique insight into some of the continent’s most rooted people.

Back to the Land

Text by Marlene Winberg

Photographs by Paul Weinberg

With an introductory essay by Achmat Dangor

The Porcupine Press, 1996

ISBN 0-620-20429-X

From the backtext: In 1994, people began to return to land in rural South Africa they had lost under apartheid. This book chronicles that process and other related aspects of the South African government’s land reform programme.The dispossession of land in this country began more than 300 years ago, but reached its peak in the apartheid years when millions of African people – and others classified as ‘non-white’ – were removed to areas designated for black occupation. Among them were people in numerous rural communities who had owned land in the ‘white’ heartland.In the closing stages of the apartheid era, the first tentative steps were taken towards restoring such land to the dispossessed. This process gained momentum after a democratic government was elected in April 1994: one of the first pieces of legislation passed by the new parliament was the Restitution of Land Rights Act, providing for the restoration of land to people dispossessed after 1913. Forced removals were among the worst injustices of apartheid. By the same token, the restitution programme has been hailed as one of the new government’s most notable achievements.Life in rural South Africa will never be easy, and the resettled communities face a host of economic and environmental problems. But this book celebrates a precious moment in South Africa’s history – when the first people stepped back on to their land.

An End To Waiting: The story of South Africa’s Elections

Bell, Paul; De Villiers, Riaan

Published by: The Independent Electoral Commission 1995

ISBN 10: 0620186259 / ISBN 13: 9780620186254

In 1994, Paul Weinberg headed a team of photographers which recorded the activities of the Independent Electoral Commission, tasked with staging South Africa’s first democratic elections. The photographs are held in the archives of the Electoral Commission, and were published in a book entitled An End to Waiting: South Africa’s first democratic elections, 1995. Weinberg’s images form an important part of this collection.

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