Tag Archives: The Bang Bang Club

Bang-Bang Club – History & Background

The Bang Bang Club

bng bang members

History & Background  

The Bang Bang Club was a group of four conflict photographers active within the townships of South Africa between 1990 and 1994, during the transition from the apartheid system to democracy.

This period saw much black on black factional violence, particularly fighting between ANC and IFP supporters, after the lifting of the bans on both political parties. But groups like the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging were also involved in violence.

 

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Kevin CarterGreg MarinovichKen Oosterbroek, and João Silva were the four associated with the name. Many photographers, photojournalists, (such as James Nachtwey and Gary Bernard) and television news crews reported also at this time the violence in the townships. A movie about the group, directed by Steven Silver premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010.

History

The name “The Bang Bang Club” was born out of an article published in the South African magazine Living. Originally named The Bang Bang Paparazzi, it was changed to “Club” because the members felt the word paparazzi misrepresented their work.

The name comes from the culture itself; township residents spoke to the photographers about the “bang-bang” in reference to violence occurring within their communities, but more literally, “bang-bang” refers to the sound of gunfire and is a colloquialism used by conflict photographers.

On 18 April 1994, during a firefight between the National Peacekeeping Force and African National Congress supporters in the Thokoza township, friendly fire killed Oosterbroek and seriously injured Marinovich. An inquest into Oosterbroek’s death began in 1995.

The magistrate ruled that no party should be blamed for the death. In 1999, peacekeeper Brian Mkhize told Marinovich and Silva that he believed that the bullet that killed Oosterbroek had come from the National Peacekeeping Force.

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In July 1994, Carter committed suicide.

On 23 October 2010, Silva stepped on a land mine while on patrol with U.S. soldiers in Kandahar, Afghanistan and lost both legs below the knee.

Image result for João Silva (photographer)

Awards

Two members won Pulitzer Prizes for their photography. Greg Marinovich won the Pulitzer for Spot News Photography in 1991 for his coverage of the killing of Lindsaye Tshabalala in 1990.

Image result for killing of Lindsaye Tshabalala in 1990.

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Kevin Carter won the Pulitzer for Featured Photography in 1994 for his 1993 photograph of a vulture that appeared to be stalking a starving child in southern Sudan.

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See here for more in formation on Kevin Carter

Ken OosterbroekWorld Press Photo 1993, 2nd prize stories, General News; Ilford Press Photographer of the Year in 1989 and 1994; nominated the South African Press Photographer of The Year three times.

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Ken Oosterbroek, one of South Africa’s top news photographers, is held by fellow photographer Gary Bernard of the Johannesburg Star after his was killed by police gunfire in the Kathelong black township of Johannesburg 18 April 1994.

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Image result for south African Press Photographer of the Year Award in 1992

João Silva won the South African Press Photographer of the Year Award in 1992; World Press Photo 2007, Honorable mention stories, Spot News.

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Photojournalist João Silva lost his legs to a land mine in Afghanistan

Book

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In 2000, Marinovich and Silva published The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War (2000), a book documenting their experiences.

Films

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film adaptation of Marinovich and Silva’s book, The Bang Bang Club (2010), was shot on location in Thokoza township by South African documentary film-maker Steven Silver.[7]Marinovich worked as a consultant on the film which starred Ryan Phillippe as Greg MarinovichTaylor Kitsch as Kevin CarterNeels Van Jaarsveld as João Silva and Frank Rautenbach as Ken Oosterbroek.

A documentary entitled The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club (2004) was nominated for an Academy Award in 2006.

The Death of Kevin Carter – Documentary Short from Saville Productions on Vimeo.

A documentary entitled When Under Fire: Shoot Back! premiered at the Denver Film Festival in November 2014.

In popular culture

The Bang-Bang Club are referenced in the 1996 Manic Street Preachers song “Kevin Carter” that features the lyric “Bang-Bang Club, AK-47 Hour.” The album “Poets and Madmen” by Savatage is inspired by the life of Kevin Carter.

Reception

The work by the members of the Bang-Bang Club between 1990 and 1994 was well known in South Africa. The fight against apartheid on the way to democracy was becoming a bloodbath at this time and Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa wrote in the foreword of the book The Bang-bang Club: Snapshots From A Hidden War, 2000. The story of this fight needed to be told to the world, Tutu wrote:

We were greatly blessed to have some of the most gifted journalists and brilliant photographers. They helped to tell the story. They captured some riveting moments on film, such as a gruesome necklacing (Kevin Carter), and the barbaric turning on a helpless victim by a baying crowd from one or other side of the conflict (Greg Marinovich”

Tutu remarked that the work by the Bang-Bang club was affecting the life of the photographers too:

“And we know a little about the cost of being traumatized that drove some to suicide, that, yes, these people were human beings operating under the most demanding of conditions.”

The Bang-Bang Club in the words by Greg and João

 Le Bang-Bang Club est un mythe, glisse João. Il n’a jamais existé. Ce ‘’était que quatre potes qui voulaient témoigner d’un moment de lHistoire… – “The Bang-Bang Club is a myth,” says João. It never existed. It was only four friends who wanted to witness a moment of history. …

Silva told Michel Peyrard this in an interview for Paris Match in 2013. Marinovitch and Silva expressed the same thing in other words in her book.

Greg Marinovich, the writer in the team of the book The Bang-bang Club: Snapshots From A Hidden War, wrote in the preface

“The name gives a mental image of a group of hard-living men who worked, played and hung out together pretty much all of the time.”

Let us set the record straight: there never was such a creature, there never was a club, and there never were just the four of us in some kind of silver halide cult – dozens of journalists covered the violence during the period from Nelson Mandela’s release from jail to the first fully democratic election

Greg Marinovich explained about the key members of the Bang-Bang Club and what bound these four men together:

We discovered that one of the strongest links among us was questions about the morality of what we do: when do you press the shutter release and when do you cease being a photographer?

 

See below for other Iconic Pictures & pictures that changed the world.

Pictures that Changed the World – Sudanese Child and Vulture

Sudanese Child and Vulture

March 1993

By Kevin Carter

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This one photograph earned Kevin Carter Pulitzer as it perfectly summed up the not-so-perfect cruelty of the infamous famine in Sudan. But the photographer could not accept the fame that came with this photograph and sadly he ended his life within 3 months.

Kevin Carter (13 September 1960 – 27 July 1994) was a South African photojournalist and member of the Bang-Bang Club. He was the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for his photograph depicting the 1994 famine in Sudan. He committed suicide at the age of 33. His story is depicted in the 2010 feature film The Bang-Bang-Club, in which he was played by Taylor Kitsch.

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The Bang Bang Club

Kevin Carter

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Early life

Kevin Carter was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Carter grew up in a middle-class, whites-only neighborhood. As a child, he occasionally saw police raids to arrest blacks who were illegally living in the area. He said later that he questioned how his parents, a Catholic, “liberal” family, could be what he described as ‘lackadaisical’ about fighting against apartheid.

After high school, Carter dropped out of his studies to become a pharmacist and was drafted into the army. To escape from the infantry, he enlisted in the Air Force in which he served four years. In 1980, he witnessed a black mess-hall waiter being insulted. Carter defended the man, resulting in him being badly beaten by the other servicemen. He then went AWOL, attempting to start a new life as a radio disk-jockey named “David”. This, however, proved more difficult than he had anticipated. Soon after, he decided to serve out the rest of his required military service. After witnessing the Church Street bombing in Pretoria in 1983, he decided to become a news photographer and journalist[2]

Early work

Carter had started to work as a weekend sports photographer in 1983. In 1984, he moved on to work for the Johannesburg Star, bent on exposing the brutality of apartheid.

Carter was the first to photograph a public execution “necklacing” by black Africans in South Africa in the mid-1980s. Carter later spoke of the images: “I was appalled at what they were doing. But then people started talking about those pictures… then I felt that maybe my actions hadn’t been at all bad. Being a witness to something this horrible wasn’t necessarily such a bad thing to do.”[3]

Prize-winning photograph in Sudan

 

Carter’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph, March 1993

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Kevin Carter – Life & Death

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In March 1993, while on a trip to Sudan, Carter was preparing to photograph a starving toddler trying to reach a feeding center when a hooded vulture landed nearby. Carter reported taking the picture, because it was his “job title”, and leaving. He was told not to touch the children for fear of transmitting disease. He committed suicide three months after winning the Pulitzer Prize.

Sold to The New York Times, the photograph first appeared on 26 March 1993 and was carried in many other newspapers around the world. Hundreds of people contacted the newspaper to ask the fate of the girl. The paper reported that it was unknown whether she had managed to reach the feeding centre. In April 1994, the photograph won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography.

Alternative account of the photograph

João Silva, a Portuguese photojournalist based in South Africa who accompanied Carter to Sudan, gave a different version of events in an interview with Japanese journalist and writer Akio Fujiwara that was published in Fujiwara’s book The Boy who Became a Postcard (絵葉書にされた少年 – Ehagaki ni sareta shōnen).

According to Silva, Carter and Silva travelled to Sudan with the United Nations aboard Operation Lifeline Sudan and landed in Southern Sudan on 11 March 1993. The UN told them that they would take off again in 30 minutes (the time necessary to distribute food), so they ran around looking to take shots. The UN started to distribute corn and the women of the village came out of their wooden huts to meet the plane. Silva went looking for guerrilla fighters, while Carter strayed no more than a few meters from the plane.

Again according to Silva, Carter was quite shocked as it was the first time that he had seen a famine situation and so he took many shots of the suffering children. Silva also started to take photos of children on the ground as if crying, which were not published. The parents of the children were busy taking food from the plane, so they had left their children only briefly while they collected the food. This was the situation for the girl in the photo taken by Carter. A vulture landed behind the girl. To get the two in focus, Carter approached the scene very slowly so as not to scare the vulture away and took a photo from approximately 10 meters. He took a few more photos before chasing the bird away.

Two Spanish photographers who were in the same area at that time, José María Luis Arenzana and Luis DaVilla, without knowing the photograph of Kevin Carter, took a picture in a similar situation. As recounted on several occasions, it was a feeding center, and the vultures came from a manure waste pit .

Death

On 27 July 1994 Carter drove his way to Parkmore near the Field and Study Center, an area where he used to play as a child, and committed suicide by taping one end of a hose to his pickup truck’s exhaust pipe and running the other end to the driver’s side window. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning at the age of 33. Portions of Carter’s suicide note read:

“I’m really, really sorry. The pain of life overrides the joy to the point that joy does not exist… depressed … without phone … money for rent … money for child support … money for debts … money!!! … I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain … of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners … I have gone to join Ken if I am that lucky.”

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See below for other Iconic Pictures & pictures that changed the world.