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In wake of (2014)

Berni Searle

archival digital print

Manchester Art Gallery

In wake of (2014)

© Berni Searle. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg. Photo credit: Manchester Art Gallery





Digital archive print


100 x 200 cm

Accession Number:



Presented by the Contemporary Art Society through Valeria Napoleone XX Contemporary Art Society, 2018/19

Ownership history:

Purchased from Stevenson, South Africa by Valeria Napoleone XX Contemporary Art Society, 8 February 2019; presented to Manchester Art Gallery, 2018/19
Two powerful photographs by South African artist Berni Searle have been acquired for Manchester Art Gallery through the Valeria Napoleone XX Contemporary Art Society award, which supports the acquisition of significant works by a living female artist for a museum collection. Searle works with lens-based media to stage narratives connected to history, memory and place. Using her own body, she addresses racism, the commodification of the female body and its power in myth making. Her work connects to universal emotions of vulnerability, loss and beauty.

In wake of was created after the 2012 Marikana massacre, in which striking mineworkers were shot at close range by the South African police. In this closely cropped image, Searle’s body is covered with coal dust and positioned as if laid out in death. Her hands hold gold Krugerrand coins, a symbol of the wealth created for the mine owners who stand in direct contrast to the migrant workers suffering under systems of racial, gender, class and economic segregation. The body here is presented as a unit of labour and memorialises women involved in the mining industry.

All rights reserved. Any further use will need to be cleared with the rights holder. Permission granted to reproduce for personal and educational use only. Commercial copying, hiring, lending is prohibited. The collection that owns this artwork may have more information on their own website about permitted uses and image licensing options.

For further information, please consult our section of our copyright policy.

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