Terms and Conditions
Welcome to TONGUES, provided by Voodoo Voodoo Ltd (“we”, “us”, “our”). Access to and use of this website (“TONGUES”) is provided by us on the basis of a number of important terms and conditions, which are set out in full below.
You should carefully read these terms and conditions (“terms”). When you use TONGUES, you will be legally bound by these terms, which will take effect from your first use of TONGUES. If you do not agree to be legally bound by these terms, then you should not use TONGUES>.
These terms apply generally to the use of TONGUES. Any facility (“Comment Facility”) that we may make accessible to you through TONGUES, enabling you to post messages, comments, information, material or content (a “Contribution”), may have additional special terms attached. If and when a Comment Facility becomes available, you will need to read and agree to be legally bound by those special terms before you post a Contribution or use those sections. If you do not agree to be legally bound by those special terms then you will not be able to post a Contribution.
TONGUES is not intended for distribution to, or use by, any person in a country where that distribution or use would be contrary to local laws or regulations.
Changes to Terms
We are continually seeking to update and improve TONGUES. As a result, we may make changes to TONGUES, including these terms, at any time. You will need to review these terms regularly so that you are aware of any changes we have made. You will be legally bound by the updated or amended terms from the first time that you use TONGUES after we post the changes on-line.
The rights in materials, images, information, data, trade marks, trade names and logos and other content included on TONGUES (“TONGUES content”) are are owned by us or the relevant third party content owner. All rights are reserved and acknowledged. As TONGUES content is protected by a variety of third party rights, you may not copy, adapt, re-publish, make available to the public or print off copies of TONGUES content in any way, or use it other than as part of TONGUES and for your personal non-commercial use, without our prior written permission.
Information which we provide through TONGUES is in outline for information or entertainment purposes only. You should not rely on it.
Third party websites
We do not monitor the content of third party websites and any link provided on TONGUES is solely for your convenience. We cannot therefore accept any responsibility for any third party website. You are responsible for checking and complying with the terms and privacy policies applicable to your use of any third party website.
The extent of our responsibility to you has been determined in the context of the following:
access to TONGUES is provided to you free of charge;
it is your responsibility to determine the suitability of any TONGUES content for any particular purpose to which you wish to put it;
TONGUES does not give instructions and you are responsible for any action or decision you take or do not take as a result of TONGUES content;
It is your responsibility to ensure that your equipment is enabled with appropriate up-to-date virus checking software before you access or use TONGUES.
Whilst we will endeavour to ensure that TONGUES is available to you and that content for which we are responsible is accurate, we cannot make any legal commitment or representation to you that TONGUES will be available at any particular time or that it or any TONGUES content will be of any particular quality or fit for any particular purpose. However, we will exercise reasonable skill and care in providing any service to you.
We can accept no liability to you for any of the following types of loss (should you suffer any of them as a result of your use of TONGUES):
loss which was not foreseeable to you and us when you first accessed or registered to use TONGUES (even if that loss results from the our failure to comply with these terms or our negligence);
any business loss you may suffer, including loss of revenue, profits or anticipated savings (whether those losses are the direct or indirect result of our default);
loss which you suffer other than as a result of our failure to comply with these terms or our negligence or breach of statutory duty;
any loss suffered due to the default of any party other than us.
We do not give any commitment that TONGUES or any TONGUES content will be available uninterrupted or error free, that defects will be corrected, or that TONGUES or its supporting systems are free of viruses or bugs.
We can accept no liability to you if we fail, or are interrupted or delayed in the performance of any obligation because of:
the non-availability or failure of any telecommunications or computer services, systems, equipment or software operated or provided by you or any third party;
any other event not reasonably within our control.
We do not give any commitments or accept any liability to you in respect of TONGUES content provided by other users of the website or third parties other than us.
Nothing in these terms will limit our liability for death or personal injury arising from our negligence.
To the extent that we are practically able to do so, we may terminate your access to any part of TONGUES at any time without notice if you breach any of the terms.
If any of these terms are determined to be illegal, invalid or otherwise unenforceable then the remaining terms shall remain in full force and effect.
These terms shall be governed by and interpreted in accordance with the laws of England and Wales. If you are a consumer, then you may have rights to bring court proceedings in the courts of the country in which you are domiciled. Otherwise, to the fullest extent permitted by law, you and we shall bring all court proceedings in the courts of England and Wales.
© TONGUES — An initiative by Voodoo Voodoo Ltd


Privacy & Cookies Policy
The tongues.cc website is operated by Voodoo Voodoo Ltd (‘TONGUES’).
This privacy policy applies to TONGUES.
We want you to enjoy our website and services secure in the knowledge that we have implemented fair information practices to protect your privacy. By visiting our website, you are accepting the practices described in our privacy policy, including our use of cookies and similar online tracking technologies. If you do not agree to the terms of this privacy policy, please do not use the website.
TONGUES may change this policy from time to time by updating this page and you should regularly check to ensure that you are happy with any changes. This policy was last updated on 11 February 2020.
The policy outlines:
1. General principle
2. How we collect information
3. Types of information we may collect
4. How we use your information
5. How we protect the information we collect
6. Access to your personal information
7. How to contact us
1. General principle
There are two types of information we may collect from you when you use the website: non-personally identifiable information and personally identifiable information. Non-personally identifiable information does not individually identify you, but it may include tracking and usage information about your general location, demographics, use of the website and the internet. Personally identifiable information is information that you voluntarily provide when you set up a user account, subscribe to a newsletter, or query that can individually identify you and may include your name and email address etc.
We do not link non-personally identifiable information to your personally identifiable information.
We do not share either type of information unless required to run the website and services (see third-party services below). We will never sell either type of information.
This privacy policy does not apply to any information collected outside of the website, including offline or through other means (for example, via telephone or through email), unless otherwise stated below or at the time of collection.
2. How we collect information
We collect information when you:
— Ask to be placed on an email newsletter list
Make an enquiry about our services
— Answer a reader survey
— Provide information to us
Links to other websites, social media platforms
Our website may contain links to other websites of interest. However, once you have used these links to leave our website, you should note that we do not have any control over the information that is collected and shared about you. You should exercise caution and look at the privacy statement applicable to the website in question.
You may interact with content on our website through social media platforms we use such as Facebook by using their social features. Examples of social features include ‘liking’ or ‘sharing’ our content. We encourage you to review their policies before using their tools, which can be found at their respective websites. If you’d prefer that these social media platforms do not collect information about the content you share and use, we suggest that you don’t use their tools.
3. Types of information we may collect
The types of information we may collect includes:
— Account information (email address)
— Information you provide through a TONGUES reader survey which might include age range, education level etc
TONGUES is not responsible for any information you have provided in public areas of our website or on our social media platforms, which may then be viewed by other users.
4. How we use your information
The information we collect may be used to help us:
— Provide services you voluntarily subscribed to such as email newsletters
— Improve the quality of our website
— Promote services to you including advising you of updates or changes to our website and services
— Improve the website through reader surveys and feedback
Disclosure to third-party services
As part of providing our website and services to you we use a limited number of third-party services that perform functions on our behalf, including but not limited to website hosting, server monitoring, tracking user behaviour, marketing automation services, and customer service.
We have no control over, and assume no responsibility for, the conduct, practices or privacy policies of these third-party services and encourage you to read the policies of the services we use below:
TONGUES uses the MailerLite marketing automation service to issue newsletters. Find out more about MailerLite’s Privacy Policy and Terms.
When you subscribe to our email newsletters
By clicking ‘Subscribe’ you agree to the following: 
We will use the email address you provide to send you a weekly or monthly email. We also send occasional updates and, no more than once a year, reader surveys. 
The email address/es you provide will be transferred to our external marketing automation service ‘MailerLite’ for processing in accordance with their Privacy Policy and Terms. We use MailerLite to issue our newsletters. We have no control over, and assume no responsibility for, the conduct, practices or privacy policies of MailerLite
You can change your mind at any time by clicking the ‘unsubscribe link’ in the footer of emails you receive from us, or by contacting us at [email protected]. If you want to review and correct the personal information we have about you, you can click on ‘update preferences’ in the footer of emails you receive from us, or by contacting us at [email protected].
5. How we protect the information we collect
We are committed to ensuring that your information is secure. We have taken reasonable measures to protect information about you from loss, theft, misuse or unauthorised access, disclosure, alteration and destruction. No physical or electronic security system is impenetrable however and you should take your own precautions to protect the security of any personally identifiable information you transmit. We cannot guarantee that the personal information you supply will not be intercepted while transmitted to us or third-party service providers. 
Sharing your personal information
We will not disclose your personal information except; (1) as described by this Privacy Policy (2) after obtaining your permission to a specific use or disclosure or (3) if we are required do so by a valid legal process or government request (such as a court order, a search warrant, a subpoena, a civil discovery request, or a statutory requirement). We will retain your information for as long as needed in light of the purposes for which it was obtained or to comply with our legal obligations and enforce our agreements. 
Data transfer
This website is published in the United Kingdom. If you are located in a country outside of these countries and voluntarily submit personally identifiable information to us, you should be aware that information about you will be transferred to this countries. We attempt to comply with local data protection laws to the extent that they may apply to TONGUES. 
Age of consent
Our website is not directed at children under the age of 18 and we do not knowingly collect or maintain information from those we know are younger than 18. If you are younger than 18, you should not submit or post any personally identifiable information to our website. By using the Service, you represent that you are at least 18 years of age.
6. Access to your personal information
You may request a copy of the personal information we hold about you by submitting a written request to [email protected]. We may only implement requests with respect to the personal information associated with the particular email address you use to send us the request. We will try and respond to your request as soon as reasonably practical. When you receive the information, if you think any of it is wrong or out of date, you can ask us to change or delete it for you. 
We take all reasonable steps to ensure the information held is accurate, up-to-date, complete, relevant and not misleading. 
7. Contact us
If you have any questions about our privacy policy or our use of your information, please contact us at [email protected].

Jo Ractliffe

November 12 / 2021


Cape Town-based photographer Jo Ractliffe’s approach to this art form is known to be rooted in the long-distance drive, the road as much her medium through which to offer an interpretation of the world as the camera. From her early works in the 1980s to her essays on the consequences of the ‘Border War’ in Angola and South Africa, her photographic projects have consistently entailed lengthy journeys in the landscape. In 2015 Ractliffe sustained an injury that, in her words, altered my life and the way I see things. In the years since, she has moved away from the narrative sequence of the photo essay, revisiting an earlier interest in juxtaposition and montage. Combining new photographs with previously unpublished images from her archive, Ractliffe’s recent exhibitions, ‘Everything is Everything’ (2017), ‘Hay tiempo, no hay tiempo’ (2018) and ‘Signs of Life’ (2019), have explored the sometimes unexpected associations and meanings that emerge from the seemingly random assemblage of disparate images. ‘Being There’ (which was on show at Stevenson Cape Town from 9 September to 23 October 2021) came about during the lockdown of 2020. Like much of Ractliffe’s recent work, it looks at what endures in the periphery of loss.


Q >When was the first time you picked up a camera? And did you know early on that photography would be so central to your life?

A >I came to photography quite late actually. I was 21, already in my final year of art school, making horrible paintings and feeling rather despondent about my future as an artist. When the school organised an evening course in photography, I bought an old second hand Nikkormat camera and signed up. It was instant, exhilarating, like someone turning a light on inside my head. I knew I’d be doing this for the rest of my life.

Q >Tell us about the connection between road tripping and your photography practice.

A >For as long as I can remember, even when I was a little girl, the road has stirred something inside me — the prospect of its openness, that sense of possibility floating on the horizon. But its link to my photography probably goes back to when my father managed a brickworks up the West Coast in the late 1960s and I would take the long drive with him to work on the weekends. I think there was something about the way I apprehended landscape, space and time through the frame of the car window that I later connected with photographing. Also, most of my work takes place in the landscape so driving is inextricably linked to my working process. But the road is also interesting on a conceptual level. On the road, you’re always passing through; it’s the space between one place and the next, between past and future. It’s the ultimate non-place, but it’s never nowhere. You could say it’s something of a liminal or threshold space. So when it comes to my photography, which is mostly concerned with land, history and violence — particularly, the ways past violence manifests in the landscape of the present — the road is not simply the space of travel, it conditions my way of seeing.

Q >You’ve said the injury you sustained in 2015 “altered my life and the way I see things”. Tell us more about this: in its aftermath, how do you perceive things and live your life differently?

A >I have permanent damage to my spinal cord and although I’m much improved, my mobility is quite severely compromised. So I’ve had to relinquish my previous modes of working — those long journeys into the landscape. When I came out of hospital, I started going through my negative files and became quite curious about pictures I had taken for no apparent purpose: pictures made between projects, at the end of a roll of film or to test a camera. The first show after my injury, Everything is Everything was made up entirely of those kinds of images. It was not intended as anything more than an interim exercise while I was convalescing, but it was the start of a new way of working, which also took me back to an earlier interest in juxtaposition and montage, something I’d moved away from in favour of the extended photo-essay — like those on the aftermath of war in Angola. And the whole process of going back into my archive was very illuminating — and later provided much material for the book project, Photographs: 1980s to now.

So although I photograph only sporadically these days, it’s been liberating to juxtapose old and new images and to see what emerges when apparently disparate images from various sources and contexts come together. And Being There has extended my interest in juxtaposition and montage — in the photographs and the film — and more so, it comprises almost entirely new works, and that’s really gratifying.

Q >The photographs in ‘Being There’ are of footage frozen in time. Which films and imagery were you drawn to capture? What was it about a certain moment in time that will make you press the shutter button?

A >Being There was about finding a way to respond to what was happening in 2020, but the thinking behind it was prompted by an earlier question about how to photograph when one cannot be ‘in place’. At the time, I was thinking about the limitations of physical disability, but with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, this question took on new dimensions. Like so many people everywhere, I was confined to my house and my connection to family, friends and the world was via my computer screen. And despite the disembodied nature of such experience, it occurred to me that the screen offered a portal through which I could enter the world and engage photographically with this moment.

I looked at both documentary and feature films; for example, documentaries on the refugee crisis, the Chernobyl disaster, Antarctic exploration and the atom bomb. And also quite a wide range of fiction films, from westerns to science fiction and zombie films to road movies — films like Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man (1995), Wim Wenders’ Until the End of the World (1991), Emir Kusturica’s Time of the Gypsies (1988) Emilio Fernández and Gabriel Figueroa’s and Rio Escondido (1947), Yeon Sang-ho’s Train to Busan (2016) and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West (1968).

You talk about pressing the shutter; that process of setting up the camera and taking time to look at something slowly and carefully was central, even if it might seem simpler just to download images or make screengrabs. And the moments I looked for primarily were those that were either mysterious or somewhat ambiguous — images that could be read in multiple ways. For example, there’s an image of a couple stretching towards each other, as if coming into an embrace — or they could be falling, grasping at each other. I’ve also worked the contrast, tone, resolution and grain of the stills, all of which abstracts the image to some degree, fudges its reality and makes it difficult to discern exactly what’s going on. So they invite the viewer to project a narrative, to make links between images, and to be active in the process of making meaning.

Q >Your photographs appear in a video, on gallery walls, and in a book; in some instances accompanied with sound. How does the way in which visuals appear (including their context and the surface they’re on) affect their meaning, or the way they’re perceived?

A >That’s a great question! I’ve always wanted to take photographs off the wall — literally. From the beginning, I’ve tried to engage critically with photographic modes and convention in ways that you speak about — to look at how convention, mode and context, in themselves, frame meaning. So it’s about disturbing the surface of the image in a way; dislocating perception and introducing other ways of seeing.

Probably the most elaborate, and yet minimal project was End of Time, which grew out of an incident along the national road between Johannesburg and Cape Town. I was busy making a photographic inventory of the road: one image every hundred kilometres. It was an exercise in blandness. Except driving through the Karoo desert, almost halfway between the two cities, I came upon three donkeys lying alongside the road. They had been shot. And my abstract exercise was brought into sharp focus by that violent event. I mounted the exhibition in the Karoo village of Nieu-Bethesda, which also began with an actual journey — roughly eight hours of driving through the Karoo, depending on your starting point. I wanted to interrupt the journey — as mine had been — so I installed three billboards along the national road near the town, so that passing travellers would encounter the giant image of a donkey looking out from that landscape. And finally, once you got there, your journey was reflected back via the images on show: a long strip of 28 photographs of the road between Johannesburg and Cape Town and back, taken at 100-kilometre intervals. On the other side was a large, almost life size portrait of one of the dead donkeys.

Q >Tell us a bit about the collaborative process with composer Philip Miller and filmmaker Catherine Meyburgh in the creation of the film ‘Something this way comes’.

A >As a photographer, I usually work alone — in fact the only other true collaboration was also a film, One Year Later, made with Argentine filmmaker Sebastian Diaz Morales. In Something this way comes, Philip and I worked relatively independently of each other, but quite closely with Catherine — she was a bit like the hub of this project; it all came together through her. The work came about during the time of lockdown and was shaped by our response to events across the world at the time. We had the thought of something apocalyptic — hence the title, which comes from a line spoken by one of the three witches in Macbeth. But within that framework, we took our own paths. I wanted to make a road movie to the end of the world. I had amassed about 30 years of drives across four continents — most of which was shot through the car window so I assembled a cut-and-paste journey that moved from a war-torn city through a series of broken landscapes, coming to its end at the southernmost tip of Africa. Philip’s initial impetus was to work with bell sounds, inspired by a trip to Mexico during the Day of the Dead festival where the children wear costumes sewn with hundreds of little bells so the noise of their dancing will wake the dead. But our somewhat fragmentary and disjointed process was well suited to montage and assemblage, which underlined our approach to image and sound and indeed, the editing. So each of the parts are equally present in the final work and in that sense the work feels truly collaborative.

Q >What do you hope viewers of ‘Being There’ and ‘Something this way comes’ will walk away with?

A >This is always a difficult question for me because I tend to work in quite open-ended ways, where meaning is fluid, uncertain, contingent. And sometimes this makes for work that feels elusive to some viewers. But of course I want my work to resonate with people; I want to make that connection. And in this moment particularly, I would hope that people looking at these works might reflect on their own experience and find something meaningful in that.


Jo Ractliffe was born in 1961 in Cape Town and lives there. Her first US survey, Jo Ractliffe: Drives, took place at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2020/21. Other recent solo exhibitions include Signs of Life, Stevenson, Cape Town (2019); Hay Tiempo, No Hay Tiempo, Centro Fotográfico Álvarez Bravo, as part of Hacer Noche, Oaxaca (2018); Everything is Everything, Stevenson, Johannesburg (2017); After War, Fondation A Stichting and Galerie de l’erg, Brussels (2015); The Aftermath of Conflict: Jo Ractliffe’s Photographs of Angola and South Africa, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2015); Someone Else’s Country, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts (2014); and The Borderlands, Stevenson, Cape Town (2013). Her photo-books include Photographs: 1980s – Now (2020), Signs of Life (2019), Everything is Everything (2017), The Borderlands (2015), As Terras do Fim do Mundo (2010) and Terreno Ocupado (2008).


Images courtesy of Jo Ractliffe and STEVENSON gallery
© Jo Ractliffe
Jo Ractliffe, Photographs: 1980s – now was published by Steidl / The Walther Collection (2020).

Jo Ractliffe — Doll’s head, 1990–95. Series: reShooting Diana

Jo Ractliffe — Strawberry man, 1990–95. Series: reShooting Diana

Jo Ractliffe — Butcher, 1990–95. Series: reShooting Diana

Jo Ractliffe — N1: every hundred kilometres, 1996/9

Jo Ractliffe — N1: every hundred kilometres, 1996/9

Jo Ractliffe — N1: every hundred kilometres, 1996/9

Jo Ractliffe — Video club, Roque Santeiro market, 2007. Series: Terreno Ocupado

Jo Ractliffe — On the road to Cuito Cuanavale, 2009. Series: As Terras do Fim do Mundo

Jo Ractliffe — House on the hill, Riemvasmaak, 2012. Series: The Borderlands

Jo Ractliffe — Falsa Ilusion, Oaxaca, 2018. Series: Signs of Life

Jo Ractliffe — Piet Basson’s bible, Riemvasmaak, 2013. Series: Signs of Life

Jo Ractliffe — St Helena mermaid, 2018. Series: Signs of Life

Jo Ractliffe — Still #26, 2021. Series: Being There

Jo Ractliffe — Still #39, 2021. Series: Being There

Jo Ractliffe — Still #5, 1987. Series: Being There

Jo Ractliffe — End of Time, 1999 (exhibition billboard erected in Nieu-Bethesda, Karoo, South Africa)

Jo Ractliffe — Something this way comes, 2021 (film still)

Jo Ractliffe — Something this way comes, 2021 (film still)