Monique Pelser


Trucker 2006
Airways Customer Care Officer
Petrol Attendant
Camera Man
Bicycle Mechanic
Car Guard
Water Works Assistant
TV Producer
Gallery Assistant
Hopper Feeder
Newsreel Technician
Sales Assistant
Child Minder
Forklift Driver
Sub Station Manager
Bank Hostess
Shoe Maker
Area Commissioner
Baggage Coordinator
Cinema Usher
Hair Washer
Farm Worker
Head Nurse
Refuse Collector
Fish Filleter
Machine Operator
Toilet Cleaner
Shelf Packer
Security Guard
Sewerage Works Operator
Video Shop Attendant
Floor Manager
Head Masters Secretary
Shop Attendant
Bottle Store Attendant

about the work

In the manner of the German photographer August Sander, I sought out and photographed a range of South African vocational archetypes: the builder, the mechanic, the petrol attendant, the nurse, the airline steward, the suburban security guard.

Complicating these unceremonious portraits I inserted myself into every frame, inhabiting – quite literally – the dress (clothes, shoes, jewellery, spectacles) of my subjects, who in turn wore my clothes and took my picture.

The process involved taking a portrait of the sitter and then inverting the roles by changing clothes with the sitter and he/ she would take the portait of me performing their role. In doing so I was attempting to challenge the signs of identity construction through photography, as well as, interrogating the intense yet fleeting relationship between sitter and photographer.

exhibitions and exposure

In 2006 the work was awarded a distinction as a masters of fine art submission at Rhodes University.

Art South Africa featured the work, which can be viewed at
Subsequently I was voted as the Brightest Young Artist for 2007 (Art South Africa Magazine v5.3).

The show travelled South Africa and was shown as a solo show at the Market Photography Workshop, Johannesburg as well as the Bell Roberts Gallery, Cape Town.

Maureen De Jager, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Rhodes Universtiy, has written and presented a seminar paper entitled The Cameras Lies: Role-Playing, Posing and imposture in the Self Portrait Photography of Monique Pelser and Samuel Fosso.


Trucker 2006
Airways Customer Care Officer 2006
Petrol Attendant 2006
Camera Man 2006
Butcher 2006
Deckhand 2006
Bicycle Mechanic 2006
Car Guard 2006
Water Works Assistant 2006
Chef 2006
TV Producer 2006
Gallery Assistant 2006
Hopper Feeder 2006
Waiter 2006
Newsreel Technician 2006
Fireman 2006
Sales Assistant 2006
Child Minder 2006
Forklift Driver 2006
Sub Station Manager 2006
Bank Hostess 2006
Mechanic 2006
Dishwasher 2006
Shoe Maker 2006
Area Commissioner 2006
Baggage Coordinator 2006
Paramedic 2006
Cinema Usher 2006
Hair Washer 2006
Farm Worker 2006
Cashier 2006
Head Nurse 2006
Refuse Collector 2006
Fish Filleter 2006
Machine Operator 2006
Toilet Cleaner 2006
Librarian 2006
Shelf Packer 2006
Painter 2006
Security Guard 2006
Sewerage Works Operator 2006
Laundress 2006
Video Shop Attendant 2006
Floor Manager 2006
Undertaker 2006
Postman 2006
Head Masters Secretary 2006
Shop Attendant 2006
Projectionist 2006
Bottle Store Attendant 2006