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Melanie Cleary

Melanie Cleary »

Exhibition: – 23 Feb 2013

Sat 24 Nov 17:00 - 19:00

gCS Galerie Cultural Speech

Postjesweg 6-8
1057 EA Amsterdam

+31 20-


Melanie Cleary

Melanie Cleary

Series: New Years Day & The Hero Within

Exhibition: 24 November 2012 – 23 February 2013
Opening: Saturday 24rd of November 17:00 - 19:00

Gallery Cultural Speech is proud to present the opening of the South African photographer Melanie Cleary’s solo exhibition on Saturday the 24rd of November. During this exhibition we will display her series New Years Day and The Hero Within. Cleary’s photographs are anchored within a genre of socio-political tradition with a strong focus on portraiture. Her images capture the core of South African culture, its rituals, traditions, and most of all, its people.

In her series New Years Day, Cleary focuses on capturing iconic individual portraits. These portraits were shot during new year’s day at one of the most popular holiday destinations in South Africa: North Beach in Durban, where thousands of South Africans come together to celebrate the start of the new year. This annual celebration in South Africa represents not only the beginning of a new annual cycle, but also a preparation for the year ahead. Water is a very important part of Zulu ritual life. It is used for purification and cleansing, healing and protection, sex and fertility. This series has earned Cleary a spot in the finals of the prestigious PDN Photo Annual 2012 in New York.

In The Hero Within, Cleary questions physical identity, beauty and dignity where people literally and figuratively recreate themselves through their ‘performance’. During the making of this series, Cleary came to see her role as something of an extension of the participants’ strategies for self-display and, with this, created a new medium and context for the subjects of the pictures. Their self-presentation created curious nobility that she found disarming and which she managed to portray magnificently.

Melanie Cleary

Melanie Cleary (1970, Caledon Western Cape) currently lives in Cape Town and works as photographer for South African commercials and a behind-the-scenes photographer for the film industry. This experience nurtured her ability to capture and create beautiful images and to tell stories. "Photography is a constant reminder of the beauty that can be found in simple things and the awe-inspiring complexity seen in human nature." In 2011, Cleary received recognition for her series The Hero Within as a finalist in the international Celeste Prize.

Melanie Cleary