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Tracey Derrick Photographer South Africa


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Noluthando Mamputa is a healer in the Zionist Christian Church, she prepares for service at mid-day, 1993.
The circle represents peace and harmony, a feeling of community and belonging is created – it made me feel dizzy, 1993.
Baptism improves health and increases reception of powerful spiritual energy – I could feel energy all around me, 1993.
Washing and cleansing allows positive spirits to enter a person, bringing new meaning to life, 1993.
Darkness and destruction washed away - the toils of daily life forgotten, 1994.
The baptism is at an end – I am soaking wet too, and feel at peace, 1994.
The Waters of Life

Zionist ceremonies in the townships of Cape Town

Through Noluthando Mamputa I learnt about the unique, energetic ceremonies and beliefs of the Zionist Christian Church. It is the largest and fastest growing religion in Southern Africa, accounting for approximately 35% of the black population.

Christianity is mixed with traditional culture and ancestor worship – embracing the mysteries of Africa in a way other churches do not. Zionists place great emphasis on ritual and prayer healing and an important aspect of their religion is the creation of the feeling that they belong to a community. Their rituals are about calling the ancestors from the past and gaining knowledge and advice from them.

Baptism is a symbolic death and spiritual re-birth – we die and are re-born many times. It is a ritual used to regain an inner equilibrium and to receive a powerful infusion of spirituality. Drums, singing and the symbolic circle are used to induce trancing and a communication with the spirits. Zionists open themselves up in order to receive energy so that they can give it out to others.

In order to deal with the here and now, people need to travel spiritually, to connect with a psyche, an energy that can answer the desires of today. Their rituals are about calling upon a collective unconscious, the ancestors from the past. Their ceremonies encompass motifs found in all religions and culture, sharing the belief that our psyche is not of today, but that its ancestry goes back many millions of years.

Religions overlap and merge in meaningful, uplifting and highly inventive ways. African religions have not only fused with Christianity, but also with technology, science and other aspects of modern life. It is fascinating how traditions continue to thrive in new ways.

The ancient Greek word physis has important qualities for me with this work – it is used to refer to life energy as it manifests in nature, in growth and healing as well as in all dimensions of creativity. The feeling honours everlasting change, unlearning as well as learning, living as well as dying. The central theme is simply to have life and to have it more abundantly.

Tracey Derrick

Solo Exhibitions

* November 1996 "Mois de la Photo" Biennale, South African Embassy, Paris.
* April 1997 Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town, South Africa.
* February 1998 Durban Centre for Photography, Durban, South Africa.

Group Exhibitions

* May 1996 "Colours", Contempory Art from South Africa, Haus der Kulturen, Berlin.
* August 1996 Ifa-Galerie, Stuttgart, Germany.
* September 1996 Volkskas Atelier National Exhibition, Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria.
* December 1997 The Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa.
* March 1999 "Afriques", Musee de la Photographie, Belgium.
* October 1999 "Kulturen der Welt", website; www.artistica.de, Germany.