Seedtime: A Retrospective of Omar Badsha can be viewed at the Durban Art Gallery. Spanning a period of almost 50 years, starting in the 1960s the exhibition includes Badsha’s early prints and drawings as well as his now celebrated photographic essays.
Seedtime gives us an opportunity to assess the legacy of one of South Africa’s most important documentary photographers and cultural activists, who came of age in the time of Sharpeville and was a leading activists in the subsequent decades of repression and resistance.
Despite critical acclaim for his drawing and sculpture, Badsha chose politics over his artistic career. In the wake of the 1973 Durban workers strike he became a full time trade union organiser; becoming the first secretary of the Chemical Workers Industrial Union. He was also active in the revival of the Natal Indian Congress.
In the late 1970s Badsha began taking photographs as part of his work as a trade union activist. This eventually led to him taking up photography, focusing on a number of long term photographic essays that make up the major part of this exhibition.
Badsha’s world of the everyday in the Black ghettos of Durban and his photographs taken in his later travels, capture the intimacy, rituals, spaces and layered narratives of the life of the marginalised.