Everyone is Present: Essays on Photography, Memory and Family by Terry Kurgan
22 Nov 2018
In this book, Kurgan begins with a family snapshot made by her Polish grandfather in 1939 on the eve of the war. Presenting this evocative image as a repository of multiple histories—public, private, domestic, familial and generational—she sets off on a series of meditations on photography that give us startling insights into how photographs work: what they conceal, how they mislead, what provocations they contain.
Each essay takes up the thread of the story of her family’s epic journey across Europe as they flee—country by country—Nazi occupation, until they reach Cape Town, South Africa. But Kurgan takes detours, circles back, diverts attention elsewhere, enriching and also disrupting the narrative with digressions on the way Google has changed our relationship to photography, on her grand-father’s eloquent daily journals, on the shipboard flirtations of her fascinating grandmother, on vanity, on self representation, on loss and return, home and exile. Kurgan’s richly satisfying essays are part memoir, part travelogue, part analysis and they demonstrate her sophisticated understanding of a medium that has long engaged her as an artist.
About the author
Terry Kurgan is an artist and writer based in Johannesburg. Her work frequently explores the medium of photography. She has exhibited and published widely in South Africa and internationally, and received numerous grants and awards, including the FNB Vita Art prize and the inaugural Mbokoda Photography award. Her previous Books are Johannesburg Circa Now (co-edited with Jo Ractliffe) and Hotel Yeoville. Everyone is Present is her first work of creative non-fiction.
Publisher: Fourthwall Books
Release date: November 2018