Oom Wally. From Basterland, 2015
Edition 1/7 + 2 AP
Sheet size A2 (420 x 594 mm)
Ultrachrome K3 on Innova Smooth Cotton Natural White 310 g/qm Print
One hundred years after the Rehoboth Basters rose up against their German colonizers, the photo series “Basterland“ takes up the task of providing a multifaceted insight into the contemporary life of the ethnic group living in Namibia today. A heterogenous spectrum of images arises in condensed pictures, revealing the tension-laden contradictions inherent to a typical phenomenon of our day and age—the confrontation between the processes of global standardization, and traditional regional structures that have been upheld over generations and defended against such external, antagonistic forces.
It is a portrait of a society that seems to find itself in an “in-between“ amid tradition and change. It emerges out of the deliberately subjective impressions of the photographer: She, too, is permeated by this “in-between“, on the one hand because of her repeated visits to the region to become part of the community; on the other hand because of her European heritage, through which she always represents something other. This tension saturates the images throughout the series; some images were partially staged, others were created spontaneously.
The virtually constitutive meaning of this history, which has been fought for time and time again, is the central theme of this work: The past lights up in the present, but precisely this past was meant to constantly be protected from the present. Last but not least the merit of this photo series lies in reminding us of a forgotten episode of German colonial history.
The name “Baster” (Afrikaans for German bastards) may seem a little pejorative. But the Baster community gave it themself because it reminds them of their heritage and emergence. The Basters are the offspring of the union between European settlers and their indigenous Khoisan slaves during the colonial period in the 18th century. During the South African colonization, the Basters became a more and more unwanted and stigmatized group. Since Namibia’s independence in 1990, the Basters are the only traditional grouping in Namibia with no special legal status and to this day they fight for their acceptance and recognition in society.