Jo Ratcliffe's black and white images show the eerie silence that remains after war

Photographer Jo Ratcliffe investigates how the land we live on can bear the permanent, emotional marks of its history. In this series she focuses on Angola.

From the Series

For over two years, Jo Ractliffe traced the routes of the Border War fought by South Africa in Angola through the 1970s and 80s, travelling alongside ex-soldiers returning to the places where they fought for the first time since the SADF's withdrawal from the region.

This body of work, As Terras do Fim do Mundo (The Lands of the End of the World), follows an earlier series, Terreno Ocupado (2007), in which she explored the social and spatial demographics of Angola's capital city of Luanda five years after the country's civil war had ended.

She writes: “During my time in Luanda, a second project began to suggest itself, one in which my attention would shift away from the urban manifestation of aftermath to the ‘space’ of war itself.”

In the black and white photographs of As Terras do Fim do Mundo, Ractliffe captures the eerie silence of the traces of war. Her haunting images explore the idea of landscape as pathology; how past violence manifests in the landscape of the present, both forensically and symbolically.

Ractliffe was born in 1961 in Cape Town and lives in Johannesburg. She obtained her MFA degree from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, in 1988 and has exhibited extensively in South Africa and internationally since then. Her work has been widely exhibited in South Africa, Europe and United States.