Ernest Cole
House of Bondage

Ernest Cole, South Africa, 1960s. Pensive tribesmen, newly recruited to mine labour, await processing and assignment. from the chapter „The Mines“ © Ernest Cole / Magnum Photos

2 June to 17 September 2023
Deutsche Börse AG, The Cube, Eschborn

We present the first major exhibition in Germany dedicated to the South African photographer and important chronicler of apartheid politics Ernest Cole (1940 - 1990). His photographs from the 1960s, published in 1967 in the book "House of Bondage", vividly document the everyday life of the Black population in South Africa. The exhibition shows around 130 works from "House of Bondage", early original prints, personal documents of the artist, original editions of Cole's picture series published in magazines and a video interview with him from 1969.

Ernest Cole (1940-1990) chronicled the Black majority’s experience during apartheid in South Africa as forcefully and comprehensively as few of his contemporaries. In his photobook “House of Bondage”, published in 1967, he captured countless forms of violence and repression, which, as a Black photographer, he was also subject to. Cole photographed the precarious living conditions of mine labourers and domestic workers in white households, as well as the miserable state of the transport and health sectors. He paid particularly close attention to the children and young people, who, denied proper education, lived in poverty and despair. As a person directly affected, his insights into the life of Black South Africans in the 1960s are harrowing – marked by oppression, arbitrary police action and expropriation. The exhibition “Ernest Cole. House of Bondage” is a cooperation with Magnum Photos. It was curated by Anne-Marie Beckmann, Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, and Andréa Holzherr, Magnum Photos.

In a cooperation supporting the exhibition, the Arthouse Cinemas Frankfurt will feature a specially selected accompanying programme. The screenings will be held at the Cinéma Kino, Frankfurt Hauptwache, following a short introduction by Anne-Marie Beckmann. The following films will be shown: “Mandela. The Long Road to Freedom” (2013) on 18 June, 2 p.m., and “The Bang Bang Club” (2011) on 5 September at 6.30 p.m. Tickets are available via


Installationshots "Ernest Cole. House of Bondage"