This essay looks at the way in which the history of South Africa is imprinted in representations of place. It examines images of the land as sites of inscription, exploring the residue of deep colonial history as well as the more immediate past of apartheid on the signs and signifiers that we encounter in the landscape. The works of seven contemporary South African artists are discussed in this context, including the photography of David Goldblatt, Guy Tillim, and Santu Mofokeng, video work and anamorphic drawings by William Kentridge, film by Berni Searle, painting by Vivienne Koorland, and installation by Nicholas Hlobo. The examples therefore cross generations and media in an attempt to understand the ongoing challenge of history for contemporary representations of place in the context of postapartheid South Africa.

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