“I grew up in South Africa in the dark days of apartheid. It was a time of bigotry, a time when the government exploited divides and turned people against each other. It was a time when the police became highly militarized and violent.”
Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, artist and filmmaker Ralph Ziman is based in Los Angeles, California. Ziman’s artwork has shown in solo exhibitions at Joseph Gross Gallery in Tucson, Arizona; C.A.V.E. Gallery in Venice, California; The Rendon Gallery in Los Angeles, California; PULSE Art Fair in Miami, Florida; as well as group exhibitions at the National Gallery in Cape Town, South Africa; the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in Brooklyn, New York; the FNB Art Fair in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Musée de Design et d’Arts Appliqués Contemporains in Lausanne, France; and Forum Schlossplatz in Aarau, Switzerland, among others.
Anyone who has spent time in South Africa in the 1980’s shares some history with the Casspir; it is as familiar as the smell of tear gas and burning tires.
Nothing said “police intimidation” like the smell of diesel fuel and the roar of the 165 horsepower engine. Nothing was as potent as seeing one of these ironclad beasts flying through narrow township streets at 90 km/h. Ziman elected to leave South Africa in 1981 and has lived in the United States for 30 years.
“I remember columns of Casspirs, ten or fifteen, heading for the East Rand Townships of Daveyton and Katlehong,” Ziman says. “Heavily armed paramilitary police sitting casually on the roofs brandishing automatic weapons. I remember Casspirs flying at high speeds down the narrow, potholed streets of Soweto. I remember how the South African police would park two Casspirs in the road to form a blockade, forcing drivers to slow into an S-shaped route for tense inspection.”
The Casspir Project: Photo Exhibition features a body of work from Ziman’s “Ghosts” series, captured in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Ethiopia, and his “Casspir” series, captured in Kliptown, South Africa. Both photography and sculpture, “Bones” seeks to confront the egregious killing of endangered animals for trophy and sport in South Africa.
The UN estimates that there are more than five hundred million small arms in circulation around the world. More than seventy million of those are estimated to be AK 47’s.
Ninety percent of all casualties in wars around the world are caused by small arms.
Eighty percent of those killed are civilians.
The Casspir Project is a traveling multidisciplinary fine art exhibition that encompasses a variety of media including installation, photography, oral history, and documentary film, available to be presented in whole or in part.