ROSPHOTO and Juhan Kuus Documentary Photo Centre (Tallinn, Estonia) present a retrospective exhibition of the work by Juhan Kuus, the internationally renowned photographer of Estonian descent who was born and worked in South Africa.

The exhibition is a comprehensive overview of the creative legacy of Juhan Kuus. Yet, the curators have particularly focused on the period between 1986 and 1999 when Kuus worked as the South African correspondent and photojournalist for the prominent French agency, Sipa Press. It was then that his most prominent works were created, exploring the tumult of the apartheid regime, resistance movement, release of Nelson Mandela and his way towards the presidency of the South African Republic. Juhan Kuus started working as a photo reporter at the age of 17, and developed into one of the most influential and radical photographers of South Africa during his 45-year-long career. His photos, which were taken with utter devotion, direct poignancy and unyieldingly close contact to what he was shooting, found their way into the world’s leading newspapers, journals, exhibitions and photo festivals. He received dozens of awards, and is the only photographer of Estonian descent ever to have received the most prestigious press photo award in the world: the World Press Photo Award, which he won twice, in 1978 and 1992.

Robben Island Prison. President Bill Clinton with Nelson Mandela in Mandela’s old prison cell. South Africa. 27 March 1998 

A placard during a parade of the Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB) for the celebration of Republic Day. Pretoria, Transvaal Province, South Africa. 29 May 1993 

Blacks are trying to accelerate the abolition of segregation in public places. “Petty apartheid” in buses and pools tends to disappear. Pool in Johannesburg, South Africa. 30 September 1988

Anti-apartheid unrest. Cape Town, South Africa. 1985

However, his best works are not limited to news photography. First and foremost, he considered himself to be an anthropologist-documentarian, whose photos narrate deeply humane stories about South African people, regardless of their racial background. His photos depict the joys and concerns of simple people, their everyday lives and traditions, the relationship between man and land, the prevailing social norms and taboos… Juhan Kuus was always looking for humaneness and trying to see the reasons behind a person’s behaviour, attitudes and choices. 

On display at ROSPHOTO are around one hundred works by the prominent photo reporter.

Juhan Kuus

Project Partners

Information Partners