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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.

Publicity  2011; 2007

Art Throb On-Line Magazine; June 2007

Maureen De Jager; Art Historical Conference; The Camera’s Lies: Role-Playing, Posing and Imposture in the Self Portrait Photography of Monique Pelser and Samuel Fosso; September 2007 Download PDF = 96KB

Robert Sloon; Roles and Roles and Roles. Monique Pelser at Bell-Roberts Contemporary; Art Heat; June 04 2007

Sean O’Toole; Art South Africa Magazine v5.3 (online version); Identity Swap; April 2007 Download PDF = 507KB

Bell-Roberts artist profile; April 2007

Sean O’Toole; Sunday Times Lifestyle; The Big Picture; March 11, 2007 Download PDF = 246KB