On the road to Cuito Cuanavale IV, 2009, from the series "As Terras do Fim do Mundo " © Jo Ractliffe
Kathleen McQueen and Jo Ractliffe in conversation
“In their day,” writes photographer Jo Ractliffe in the introduction to her book As Terras do Fim do Mundo (2010), “Portuguese colonials referred to Angola’s interior as ‘as terras do fim do mundo’ – the lands of the end of the world – and it took them nearly 400 years to leave the coast and extend their exploits inland. Even later, during the struggle for liberation, it was understood that whoever held the port capital, Luanda, held Angola. The rest didn’t figure.” Neither did it figure for South Africa’s apartheid military, who for decades waged multiple wars against Namibian and Angolan opponents – mostly in Angola, a country steeped in its own pre- and post-independence conflicts. In 2009/10, Ractliffe travelled through Angola with a group of former soldiers, most of them South African, many returning to the battlefields for the first time since the region’s various wars. This conversation, between Kathleen MacQueen and Ractliffe, investigates and anatomises the photographs she made on these journeys, photographs that mediate between a land and its traumatic history.