Milan Gies


Vincent Bezuidenhout

Artist Feature

Every week an artist is featured whose single image was published by Der Greif. The Feature shows the image in the original context of the series.

CJ Chandler - The twist of a knee

Sep 18, 2019

It was once a military outpost of the Cape Colony. If they hadn’t discovered gold in the Witswatersrand, Grahamstown may have become the capital of South Africa. Recently renamed Makhanda, this place ebbs and flows in cyclical mundanity. Harsh light emphasizes a fractured reality commonly found in these neglected small towns. This is where I was born, and where my parents still live.


I returned home with a sense of dislocation to photograph a place I thought I knew.


In making the photographs I relied on chance interactions within everyday routine. The space is mundane, harsh and at times, tender. Captured with a fresh eye, with these photographs I aim to interrogate my home as well as my own vision.

Artist Blog

The blog of Der Greif is written entirely by the artists who have been invited to doing an Artist-Feature. Every week, we have a different author.


Sep 24, 2019 - CJ Chandler

Paraffin is a commonly used slow-burning fuel in South Africa. For years the paraffin lamp has been used as a light source.  This photograph is evidence of a contemporary energy shortage,  as a result of inefficient management.


I made this photograph in an old farm house, dark and cold in spite of the harsh summer sun outside. I find this lone lamp intriguing. Perhaps it is the way it is burning almost out of control: the smoke blackening the glass, in turn rendering the flame obsolete. It is the opening image, setting a wary tone for the book.


In the following posts I will introduce photographs from the twist of a knee while exploring the process of making the book.


Sep 23, 2019 - CJ Chandler

There is a gentleness in the way this apple is being held. A man named AJ slowly enjoying the fresh crunch. A droplet slides down the shiny green skin, in juxtaposition to the oil stained tarmac. Dripping. Dripped oil black: a clear opposition to the bright white glare of the rocks. Yet, in the background we see tyre tracks. Made at a local mine, the photograph of rocks shows the remnants of toil and labour – digging into the rich history of mining on which a great deal of the economy of the Republic of South Africa was built. The rocks and stones are strangely balanced and somehow serene: a rarity in the chaos of a mine. Further, we are reminded of the glare of limestone that blinded prisoners on Robben Island during apartheid and the importance of both light and vision in photographic practice.


Sep 22, 2019 - CJ Chandler

Sanele was the Drum Major of the St. Andrew’s College Cadet Corps. This is a senior position within the colonial tradition of marching to pay tribute to those who fell during the World Wars. Throughout South Africa the Cadet Corps were used during apartheid to instill national pride in the minds of young white men, teaching basic military marching and camaraderie. Interestingly I held a senior position in the Cadet Corps while at school, without fully knowing the history from which I marched. Like me years ago, Sanele wears a Scottish uniform with pride. In that, we share a connection. It was this connection that made me eager to make the portrait. There are not many portraits in the project as I find the act of photographing people extremely difficult. More than the need for conversation and permission, there is a complex exchange at work. The photograph lives on in the world beyond the interaction for which it serves as a document. And in time its meaning will change.


Sep 21, 2019 - CJ Chandler

I’m fascinated by things that are broken. Or, almost broken and haphazardly scraped back together. Rust, metal, shattered glass: throwing me back into my father’s workshop where the initial thoughts for this project occurred. Processes, labour and cycles serves as catalysts for the making of the photographs. I spent time with my father, ritualistically tagging along on various work based outings. Although photographs were rarely made, the act of driving made me feel like I was working. Occasionally we’d stumble across scenes worth documenting. The broken gear lying hopefully in the hands of a mechanic, to be restored and continue in its purpose until damaged beyond repair then sold as scrap, melted down and repurposed. Or the taped together side mirror of a truck in the centre of town. In its pieced together state, it symbolizes Grahamstown/Makhanda: rusting, falling apart but somehow struggling on doggedly. Finally, this shattered windscreen. The glass, paint, metal and rubber speak of the process of vehicle manufacture and subsequent waste. The beads hanging outside may have belonged to the driver or a passenger. A cherished possession while alive discarded by death, left in remembrance.


Measure Twice

Sep 20, 2019 - CJ Chandler

A notebook on my father’s workbench. Once clean, the paper has collected the dust and grease that comes with the environment. There is a pencil drawing on the page: a rudimentary cube that could resemble a house. Given that this project investigates, in some way, the notion of ‘home’, I found this drawing pertinent. Further, the measurements do not seem to match the scale of the sketch. There are no units of measurement in the drawing, a critical omission in an engineering workshop. This picture emphasizes the importance of detail in the project.


Sep 19, 2019 - CJ Chandler

I think the final image of a book is incredibly important. It anchors the narrative, but should leave the reader questioning its role in the work. These are the last two photographs in the most recent version of the twist of a knee. Even after countless hours scrutinizing these pictures, somehow they still resonate with me and I can clearly remember the moments they were made. I, however, can’t remember seeing a flower at night. As children we collected the seeds of the Coral tree (Erythrina), to which this flower belongs. We were told that the ‘beans’ brought luck when kept close; I grew up knowing the tree as a Lucky Bean tree. Maybe some luck is needed when making photographs or finding love. An old friend and his partner touch in the waters of Grey Dam, one of Grahamstown/Makhanda’s dwindling water sources and one of my favorite places to visit when at home. This is a tender moment in a body of work that could be read with an unrelenting harshness.