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Hanging on a Wire, edited by Rick Rohde, Wins Best Non-Fiction Edited Volume in South African Award

Hanging on a Wire: Photographs by Sophia Klaase” was shortlisted for, and subsequently won, the 2018 Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) Award for Best Non-Fiction Edited Volume. The awards were held at the John Kani Theatre at The Market Theatre in Johannesburg on 15 March 2018. Congratulations to the editors, Rick Rohde and Siona O’Connell, as well as to the photographer Sophia Klaase (“Vytjie”), who sadly passed away at the beginning of 2017.

Photograph [left to right]: Siona O'Connell, Bronwyn Viljoen (editor and co-founder of Fourthwall Books) and Rick Rohde at the 2018 Humanities and Social Sciences Awards Ceremony. Photo credit: Fourthwall Books.

Launched in 2016, the HSS Awards, “seek to honour the outstanding, innovative and socially responsive scholarship as well as digital contributions” that “reflect new voices of South Africa’s post-apartheid struggle”. With reference to Hanging on a Wire, the judges wrote, “The visual language of the photographs presented in this book is a powerful account of what it means to be young, rural and poor in South Africa. The photographs cover a range of social interactions from weddings, 21st birthday parties to funerals. But, more importantly the photographer captures people as they wish to be captured by the camera – irreverent, jubilant, mourning and wrapped up in the insignia of popular and global cultures”.

Hanging on a Wire: Photographs by Sophia Klaase. Photo Credit: Fourthwall Books.

Hanging on a Wire: Photographs by Sophia Klaase” was published by Fourthwall Books and launched on 1 February 2017. The book is edited by Rick Rohde and Siona O’Connell, with a foreword by award winning South African writer, Zoë Wicomb. The book includes essays by Rick Rohde, Virginia MacKenny, Timm Hoffman, Ben Cousins and Siona O’Connell. All photographs were taken by Sophia Klaase.

Siona remarked that, “We - Rick, Timm and I - have been forever shaped by knowing Sophia. I struggle to find the correct words to describe her - though fearless and driven are a good start but doesn’t do much to capture her unapologetic sense of humour and unique way of seeing the world. Her untimely death is South Africa’s loss as well as its challenge, a reminder that we cannot forget how we each came to be in this country and the debt that needs to be repaid to people who continue to live on the edges.”

To find out more about this book, or to order a copy, visit the Fourthwalls Books website. In an earlier Future Pasts blog Rick Rohde discusses in more detail the process of working with Sophia Klaase and eventually exhibiting her photographs at the District Six Museum in Cape Town. More of Sophia's images can be found online here.

[This post was first published by the Plant Conservation Unit (Samantha Venter) of the University of Cape Town on 20 March 2018]

The following images were taken from the HSS Awards 2018 programme:

Front cover of the 2018 HSS Awards programme.

Comment from the judges in 2018 HSS Awards programme.

About Hanging on a Wire (edited version) in the 2018 HSS Awards programme.

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