Monique Pelser
the day of the first democratic elections

R1,500.00 – R2,600.00

Monique Pelser’s Bystanders (2008) is a series of extreme close-up portraits re-appropriated from South African newspaper archives. The portraits, taken with the artist's Nokia cellular telephone, are of background characters caught in photographs reporting on historical events in South African history. ‘These marginal bystanders perform as a metaphor for the experience of seeing myself, as a young South African, in the background of a complex national history manifesting itself.’

Medium: Photographic print on newsprint
Size: image: 51 x 38 cm; paper: 59.7 x 41 cm
Edition size: 100
Year: 2008

Signed and editioned by artist on verso.


SKU 036895-1-1 Category


More about the work

The haunting and lyrical portraits have a memento mori quality, bringing attention to the occasionally violent crop of the camera and the formal pixelated quality of the images. This is done intentionally as a means of breaking down an image into its smallest form, acting as an annotation of both surveillance and forensic photography. This version of the work was printed onto newsprint and installed along seven blocks in St Georges Mall in Cape Town as part of Infecting the City Public Arts Festival in 2014. The work was made to imitate newspaper poster boards, which put the images that were taken from newspaper archives back into circulation.

Monique Pelser

Monique Pelser, born in 1976 in Johannesburg South Africa, is a visual artist currently working and living between Cape Town and New York City. Tierney Fellowship recipient for 2009 and voted by Art South Africa as a bright young artist for 2007, Monique is well known for her role reversal portraits. Monique was educated at the Market Photography workshop in 1996 and in fine art at Rhodes University Grahamstown where she majored in the photographic arts. In 2006 she was awarded a Masters of Fine Art with distinction. Along with Sabelo Mlangeni and Musa Nxumalo she was selected as one of three South African photographers to attend the Maputo Curators Meeting, Mozambique in 2008, the Bamako Curators Meeting, Mali in 2009 and the Addis Photo Fest Portfolio Readings in Ethiopia in 2010. In 2011, along with Sammy Baloji, she was invited to co-curate the show Témoin/Witness which show-cased the work of the group of photographers involved in the Curators Meetings across the African continent. In 2015 she was shortlisted for the Mbokodo Awards for women who have made an outstanding contribution to the arts in South Africa.

Additional information

Printed on newsprint.

Printing Process

Photographic print.


All prints offered are limited editions. Each print is either numbered on the artwork itself, or accompanied by a certificate.


Artworks are all priced according to each artist’s market, and in relation to the edition size.

Framing options

White, Black or Kiaat wooden box frames. Note: Kiaat is a natural wood, the grain and colour will differ slightly with each piece.

Frame design

All frame profile sizes and mounting options are what we believe work most aesthetically and practically with each print.


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