Cedric Nunn

As the title of my mid-career retrospective “Call and Response” suggests, photography is something of a calling for me. It took me many years to find this calling and route, this because of my cultural background as a hybridised, so-called “Coloured” South African trying to find a career path in the 1970’s, at the height of apartheid, when ideologically and legally within the South Africa of the apartheid state, careers for Coloureds, mixed race South Africans, were as circumscribed as those of other Black South Africans, and photography not a natural choice or possibility. This, compounded by my remote rural roots, meant that I knew nobody else who had remotely followed such a path.

So, I had to stumble upon photography almost by accident, a story for another time. But what primed me for the discovery when I did come across this particular genre of photography, was a path that I had followed, and which I was almost led through from when my high schooling was abruptly halted, and at the age of sixteen I found myself employed as a semi-skilled worker in a sugar factory on the Natal North Coast.

My sheltered rural youthful self was brusquely thrust into the coalface of South Africa’s racialised reality, with class at the forefront, where the machinations of the racial divide where writ large. It was in this context that my political consciousness was aroused, and shaped, leading me first to attempt to write about our dilemma as oppressed Africans, then briefly to attempt to paint that reality into life, and finally to the realisation that it could be imaged through photography.

In retrospect I also realise that my dad’s penchant for Time Life books, which arrived monthly and were part of our meagre home library, richly prepared me for image making as I soaked up the work of some of the finest western photo-journalists and documentary photographers of the time.

Through this route I came to photography as a political activist, not as your usual photography enthusiast, and hence I am not a photographers photographer. This obviously has its serious limitations, but also inadvertently its advantages. As South Africa negotiates its way into a sovereign African State, still burdened by its colonial and segregationist past as these near four hundred years of subjugation run deep, ensuring a settler domination of the economy and ownership of land, and a geospacial legacy wherein most Black people remain trapped in dormitory townships far from work opportunities, or worse, vast sprawling shack-lands where the quality of life, though better than the barren rural reserves, leaves much to be desired. Our nations continued belief in the neoliberal economy ensures we remain trapped in an economic system that has no solutions for the masses, and in which unemployment is rampant, crime endemic, and the gap between the rich and the poor, the greatest in the world, continues to grow.

This scenario continues to be my canvas, and of late, a life-long love for history has caused me to marry this interest and explore my current trilogy project which examines our past, all the better to understand the present. Photography lends itself to the making of history, in that within minutes of the creation of an image, it has the potential to become part of history. The scars and evidence of our contested land are everywhere to be found, and nestle in and amongst the splendor of an extraordinarily beautiful land, one that was lusted over, and fiercely defended. One where two cultures clashed, one which viewed land as a commodity to be used to project wealth and power, and the other which viewed the land as something they were an integral part of, that owned them and that they needed to protect even with their lives, which countless did. I am an integral part of this land, ready to defend it even with my life, which I have dedicated most of my life to doing thus far.

Cedric Nunn has been an independent professional photographer for over 30 years. His work has been published extensively both locally and abroad.

Published Work


4th-generation hybridised, born, raised and based in South African. I began making photographs in 1982, then joined the Johannesburg based photographic association and agency Afrapix in 1982 and was a member until it closed in 1990. I have continued to work independently as a documentary photographer and artist, showing my work in galleries and museums in South Africa and abroad. I have published two books and conceived and directed two documentary films as well.

In 2011, I won the first FNB Joburg Art Fair Award, and in 2016 the eThekwini Living Legends Award. I now live in Mangethe, on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast.

Photography involvements include;

2022. Essay written by Candice Jansen (Phd) “The Land of Cedric Nunn” published in Africa South Art Initiative book “On the Map”.

2022. Wrote chapter “Represent!” published in journal Culture and Liberation, Volume 2.

2022. Norval Sovereign African Arts Award exhibition. Norval Foundation, Cape Town. 

2021. Revelations. Joint exhibition with Samora Chapman. Durban Art Gallery. Palacio de Ferro. Luanda, Angola

2021. Artist Talk for Sweden’s Bildmuseet 40 year celebration 

2021. Nominated and selected for Sovereign African Arts Award exhibition 

2021. Essay in Black Photo Libraries journal 

2021. Feature in Forever Young video documentary (SABC)  

2021. 25 Years of Democracy: Not Yet Uhuru, Essay published in Journal of Asian and African Studies 2021, Vol. 56(I) 150-167

2020. Undermined: The Social Cost of Mining to People and Planet. Jozi Book Fair. Online exhibition 

2020. Awarded Afridig Mellon Foundation and Wits University WISER funding for African Documentary Photography Archiving Initiative exhibition project

2019. Nominated for Kyknet Fiestus Visual Arts Award 

2019. Exclamating, Still! On the Noise of Images. 12th Recontres De Bamako. Invocations. Mali. (panel presentation of Ancestral Invocations)

2019. Soil is an Inscribed Body: On Sovereignty, Agropoetics and Struggles for Liberations. Savvy Contemporary. Berlin. (Group exhibition)

2019. Highly Personal – South African Artists and Their Handprint Portraits. Daiter Gallery, Chicago. USA (Group)

2019. University of Johannesburg. Research Associate appointment in the Dean’s Office, Faculty of Humanities. 1 July 2019 to 31 August 2022

2019. Blood Relatives. Oliewenhuis Art Museum and Vrystaat Arts Festival. Bloemfontein. (Solo exhibit and screening)

2019. In the Shadow of Isandlwana. Video documentary screened at 2nd Symposium on Rorke’s Drift. Bag Factory. Wits School of the Arts

2019. 10 Years of Collecting: Additions to the Permanent Collection 2009 - 2018 Oliewenhuis Art Museum. Bloemfontein, Free State. (Group)

2019. Part of Abrie Fourie’s pitch, along with Donna Kukamma, for Venice Biennale South Africa Pavillion. 

2018. Unsettled Portfolio & Two prints acquired by Durban Art Gallery 

2018. “Re-Imagining” Museums and Archives. Centre for Curating the Archive Symposium. Panelist. Norval Foundation. Cape Town

2018. In Plain Sight. Social Life in Contemporary Photography from South Africa and Romania. The Centre for Contemporary Photography. apARTe, UNAGE lasi, Romania (Group)

2018. Return: Surviving Dispossession, Genocide and Erasure.  Homecoming Centre, District Six Museum. Cape Town. (Solo)

2018. Centre for Curating the Archive. Junior Research Fellowship. University of Cape Town, Michaelis School of the Arts. Three month duration

2018. In the Shadow of Isandlwana. Video documentary screened at 1st Symposium on Rorke’s Drift. Kunstvack University of Arts, Crafts and Design. Stockholm, Sweden

2018. Voices of Resilience - A Living History of the Kenneth Gardens Municipal Housing Estate in Durban

Photo essay. Centre for Urban Futures. Book 

2017. Resist/e. Negpos Gallery, Nimes, France. (Group)

2017. Unsettling Colonialism: Frontier and Intimate Spaces. Centre for African Studies Gallery, Cape Town. (solo) Neville Alexander Outdoor Amphitheatre University of Cape Town.

2017. Settler Colonialism Now. Open Classroom. Plenary Speaker. UCT Department of Architecture

 2017. Unsettled. Nelson Mandela Metropole University (NMMU) Bird Street Art Gallery. Port Elizabeth. (Solo) 

2016. Unsettled Portfolio acquired by; Unisa Art Gallery and Oliewenhuis Art Gallery

2016. Colloquium on First Nations Art. Bloemfontein, Free State 

2016. Beyond Binaries. Essence Articulate Africa. Durban Art Gallery. (Group)

2016. Unsettled. Umsunduzi Museum, Pietermaritzburg. (Solo)

2016. eThekwini Living Legend Award. City of Durban

2016. Unsettled. Johannes Stegmann Gallery. University of the Free State. Bloemfontein (Solo)

2016. Unsettled. Book launch at David Krut Projects 

2016. Unsettled. David Krut Gallery, Johannesburg (Solo)

2016. Unsettled. Iwalewahaus, Bayreuth, Germany (Solo)

2016. In Camera Essay published in Digest of South African Architecture 21

2016. Cape Town Art Fair. Cape Town (Group) 

2015. ‘In the Shadow of Isandlwana: The Story of the Rorke’s Drift Arts and Craft Centre’. Conceptualised, produced and directed this 55 minute video documentary

2015. Chromatic Existences. One of ten South African photographers featured in this video documentary produced by French Filmmakers for Arte Television, Europe 

2015. Nominated onto Durban Art Gallery acquisitions committee.

2015. Featured in Book ‘My Room at the Centre of the Universe’. Africa Meets Africa series

2015. Between States of Emergency. Nelson Mandela Foundation. Johannesburg. (Group) 

2015. Unsettled: 100 Years War of Resistance by Xhosa Against Boer and British. Exhibited at UNISA Space Gallery, February/March, Pretoria, Wits Arts Museum, March/April, Johannesburg. KZNSA, May, Durban. Gallery Seippel, July, Germany. David Krut Gallery, September, NYC, USA. Rhodes Island School of Design, September, Providence, USA. Wheaton College, Boston, September, USA (Solo)

2015. Unsettled. Talks: Wits Arts Museum Public Talk Programme, Johannesburg. Virginia University, Charlestown, USA. Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA. Wheaton College, Boston, USA. Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, USA. Indiana University, Bloomington, USA. Yale University, New Haven, USA. Syracuse University, NY, USA. Rutgers University, NY, USA

2015. Unsettled: Books, published by Pirogue/Archipelago Books, Brooklyn NYC, USA, and AfrikaWunderhorn, Heidelberg, Germany

2015. Unsettled Book launch at McNally Jackson Bookstore in Soho, NYC. USA

2015. Unsettled Portfolio’s acquired by; Wits Arts Museum  and Johannesburg Art Gallery 

2014. People Live Here: 20 Years of Democracy. Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action exhibition photographed by Cedric Nunn. Msunduzi Museum, Pietermaritzburg (Solo).

2014. Unsettled: 100 Years War of Resistance by Xhosa Against Boer and British. Fort Selwyn, Albany Museum. Grahamstown. Inaugural launch. (Solo) Stellenbosch University Gallery, October/November (Solo)

2014. Think!Fest. Presentation and talk on ‘Unsettled

2014. UIA2014. Photographers and Architects: Cities Panel presentation. Durban 

2014. DOING HAIR: Art and Hair in Africa. Wits Arts Museum. (Group)

2014.  Voice: viewing, reading and interpreting documentary photographyPanelist and presentation. FADA, University of Johannesburg

2014. Ngezinyawo-Migrant Journeys. Wits Arts Museum. (Group)

2013. Umhlaba, 100 Years. Commemorating the 1913 Land Act. Iziko National Gallery, Cape Town, and Wits Museum of Art, Johannesburg. (Group)

2013. Camera, Lights, Fire. ArtSpace Gallery (Group)

2013. Cornfields; A 1913 Land Act Story. Sophiatown Cultural and Heritage Centre (Solo)

2013. Joburg Art Fair; Seippel Gallery, Bailey Seippel Gallery, Omenka Gallery (Group)

2013. Call and Response. Omenka Gallery, Lagos, Nigeria (Solo)

2013. Mellon Foundation Senior Scholar Fellowship. Rhodes University, Communications and Journalism. Three-month tenure 

2013. Transitions: Social Landscapes. Arles Photo Festival. France. (Group)

2013. Rise and Fall of Apartheid. Museum Africa. Johannesburg (Group)

2013. Keeping Time: 1964-1974, The Photographs and Cape Town Jazz Recordings of Ian Bruce Huntley. Photo editor and picture restoration. Published by Electric Jive

2013. Call and Response. Oliewenhuis Art Museum. Bloemfontein, Free State (Solo)

2012. Social Landscapes. French/South Africa Photography Collaboration Exhibition. Market Photography Workshop. (Group)

2012. Rise and Fall of Apartheid. International Center for Photography. NYC, New York. USA. (Group)

2012. Call and Response. Pretoria Art Museum. (Solo)

2012. Call and Response. Haus am Luwtzoplatz. Berlin. Germany (Solo)

2012. Call and Response. Grahamstown. 38th National Arts Festival. Ntsikana Gallery, 1820 Settlers Monument. (Solo) 

2012. Call and Response. David Krut Project Space. NY, New York. USA (Solo)

2012. Cedric Nunn: Call and Response book published by Hatje Cantz and Fourthwall Books

2012. Cedric Nunn: Call and Response. Goch Museum, Germany (Solo)  

2011. Appointed to the board of the Market Theatre Foundation.

2011. Joburg Art Fair. Exhibit. (Awarded inaugural FNB Joburg Art Fair  Prize) Featured Artist of the Fair.

2011. Cedric Nunn: Call and Response. Bensusan Gallery, Museum Africa. Solo exhibition (Solo)

2011. Convergence. KwaMuhle Museum. Durban. (Solo)

2011. Cuito Cuanavale. Wits. (Solo)

2011. Sylt, Kunst: Raum. Artists residency. Germany

2010. ArchitectureZA2010. Johannesburg. Conference. Presentation and panelist

2010. Africa; See You, See Me! New York, Accra, Lagos and Florence. (Group)

2010. From Pierneef to Gugulective. Iziko South African National Gallery. (Group)

2010. Bonani Africa 2010. The Castle, Cape Town. Museum Africa, Johannesburg (Group) 

2010. South African Photography: 1950 to 2010. Willy Brandt Haus, Berlin. Goch Museum, Goch. Germany. Johannesburg Art Gallery, SA. (Group)

2010. Hearts and Minds. Savannah College of Arts and Design (Group) Panelist, ‘Africa on My Mind’ symposium. Savannah, Georgia. USA

2010. Ampersand. Artists residency. Manhattan, New York, New York. USA

2010. Joburg Art Fair. (Group) and talk

2010. In Camera. Albert Luthuli Museum, Groutville. KwaZulu Natal. (Solo)

2009. Revision. Bailey Seippel Gallery, Arts on Main. Johannesburg. (Solo) 

2009. In Camera. Produced in conjunction with Wits School of Community Development and Apartheid Archive Study Project. (Solo)

2009. Voices. End Conscription Campaign, Spier. Stellenbosch. (Group)  

2009. Joburg Art Fair. (Group) 

2008. Then and Now. Eight South African Photographers. Video documentary. featured in this documentary on South African documentary photographers

2007. Then and Now. Eight South African Photographers. (Group) Grahamstown. Melbourne Art Gallery, Australia. Sweden

2007. Blood Relatives exhibited at Durban Art Gallery.  

2007. Blood Relatives exhibited at McGregor Museum in Kimberley.

2007. Moved from Gauteng Province to KwaZulu Natal Province

2006. Blood Relatives exhibited at Harrie Siertsema’s MAP Gallery in Graskop, Mpumalanga Province. 

2006. June 1976. Conducted workshop for 100 participants and winners of a Gauteng Dept. of Culture, and Radio Kaya FM competition, the winning work was exhibited at Orlando stadium rally, Soweto to commemorate 30 years of the youth June 16 Youth Revolt that led to South Africa’s democracy and freedom 

2005. Blood Relatives photographic exhibition at Old Fort Art Gallery, Constitution Hill, Johannesburg. (Solo)

2005. Conceptualised and Directed Blood RelativesVideo Documentary. Commissioned and aired by SABC 

2004. Essay on Yeoville published in 'Voices of the Transition'   Heinemann

2004. 'Moving in Time', Exhibition of Photographs of ten years of Democracy. (Group)

2004.'Fatherhood Project' exhibition curated by the Human Sciences Research Council, exhibited at MuseumAfrica. (Group)

2004. Conceptualised and executed a photographic workshop 'Children of Democracy' Photovoice project by children, with workshops and an exhibition of images they made, for those born in 1994, the year of the advent of Democracy in South Africa, commemorating ten years of democracy through their eyes for De Beers and Northern Cape Government  Department of Education. Exhibition, MacGregor Museum, Kimberley 

2004. Judge, Vodacom Photography Journalist of the Year 2004 awards.

2000. Essay on Johannesburg published in Wespennest Literary magazine, Switzerland                                            

2003. Market Photography Workshop, became Advisory Panel member

2003. Art and Design Workshop. Department of Housing workshop on how to integrate arts into housing development. Pretoria

2003. Youth on the Move. Exhibition at Parliament, Cape Town (Group)

2003. Johannesburg Alive. Exhibited in Bogota, Columbia (Group)

2003. Judge, Vodacom Photography Journalist of the Year 2003 awards

2002. Taught, New York University students at the Wits Arts School at University of Witwatersrand. Johannesburg

2002. Group Portraits, Nine South African Families. Exhibition at Tropen Museum. Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Group)

2002. Bamako. Exhibition at Maison's Descartes. Amsterdam Photography Biennale. Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Group)

2002. Convener, Fuji Press Photo's awards 

2001. Bensusan Museum of Photography. MuseumAfricA.  Johannesburg. Appointed to board

2001. Joubert Park Art Project. Participated in Art Project at Johannesburg Art Gallery 

2000. Beyond Awareness Campaign. Government sponsored HIV/AIDS nationwide campaign to make media available to the public

2000. Emotions and Relations. Exhibition at Sandton Civic Gallery. Johannesburg. (Group)

2000. Living in a Strange Land. Exhibition at Parliament, Cape Town. (Group)

2000. Shuttle 99 Participant in Cultural collaboration between Scandinavian countries and South Africa. Attended workshops and visited Helsinki as part of South African delegation  

2000. Encounters Photography Conference. Participant (delivered paper). Cape Town

2000. Democracies Images. Exhibition at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. (Group)

2000. Workers. Exhibition at The Workers Library. Johannesburg. (Group)

2000. Resigned as director of Market Photography Workshop to return to working full-time in photography 

2000. Nominated for board of Bensusan Museum and Gallery of MuseumAfricA, Johannesburg

1999. Fuji Press Awards judge

1999. Invited by the Sundvall Museum, Sundsvall, Sweden, to address visiting groups

1999. Curated exhibition 'Photographs Denied', part of the show 'Lines of Sight'. South African National Gallery

1999. Encounters Photography Conference, delegate and participant. Cape Town

1999. Attended Shuttle 99 photography workshop in Durban. South Africa

1998. Invited to Umea, Sweden, by the Bildmuseet, to the opening of 'Democracies Images' in which I participated 

1998. Appointed Director of the Market Photography Workshop, Johannesburg 

1997. Elected onto National Council of Professional Photographers of Southern Africa

1996. The Hidden Years, KwaMuhle Museum, Durban. Solo

1996. Elected onto Gauteng committee of Professional Photographers. 

of Southern Africa

1993. Moved to Gauteng. Covered First democratic 

elections for Independent Electoral Commission in 1994.

1991. Moved to Natal on closure of AFRAPIX. Worked on AIDS and 

voter education material with NGO's

1990. One of five photographers featured in a video on South African 

photographers. (Images In Struggle). which commemorated photographers who were involved in the movement to liberate South Africa from racist tyranny. IDAF production, London 

1990. Attended South African cultural festival, ZABALAZA, in London as mandated delegate and exhibitor

1983 Onwards. Conducted workshops for various interested groupings. 

Participated and contributed to various exhibitions and books such as ‘Beyond the Barricades, ‘The Cordoned Heart, ‘Vukani Makhosikazi’, ‘Nicht Wird Uns Trennen, ‘Uprooting Poverty and ‘Nelson Mandela and the Rise of the ANCSome of these exhibitions were at the Market Theatre Gallery in Johannesburg.

1985. Moved to Natal to set up AFRAPIX agency in the region

1984. Carnegie exhibition. (Group)

1984. Staffrider exhibition. (Group)

1983 to 1984. Coordinated AFRAPIX 

1983. Joined AFRAPIX, newly founded non-funded photographic 

collective and agency 

1982. Traveled through Europe for nine months 

1981. Apprenticed to documentary photographer Omar Badsha in Durban 

1974 to 1981. Worked in Huletts Sugar factory, Amatikulu, KwaZulu/Natal 

1963 to 1973. Attended schools in Mangete and iXopo 

1957. Born in Nongoma, KwaZulu/Natal. The fifth of seven children. The greater part of my childhood spent in Hluhluwe, where my parents lived and worked, and Mangete and Ixopo, where I schooled.