Intersections Intersected

David Goldblatt
Open Eye Gallery, Wood Street (12th December 2008 - 29th February 2009)

Reviewed by Alfonso Barata

David Goldblatt is a South African photographer who has been documenting South Africa's society since 1948.

In a very subtle way, Goldblatt's photographs show us how the colonial era and Apartheid shaped not only people's lives but also the environment and landscape of the country. This is perfectly clear in the example 'The Tourist Information Centre in the style of the Basotho hat', which shows how the government sought to artificially legitimise the indigenous cultures by creating an 'ethnic architecture' that tried to replicate indigenous cultures (in this case a Basotho hat).

Interestingly, Goldblatt’s works are shown in pairs, whereby a black and white photo has been paired with another one in colour; this is something that works well as it creates an interesting dialogue between both pictures; these are examples that in most cases are separated by twenty years or so, thus showing us aspects of life during the Apartheid and Post-Apartheid era side by side.

So if one picture taken in the 1980s shows a street of a city in the times when a State of Emergency was in force ('Coetzee Street'), the one next to it talk us of unemployment in a rural town ('At the corner of Kerk and Van Riebeeck Streets, Steinsburg’).

The photos here exhibited tell the tale of South Africa over the last fifty years, exploring different aspects of this country's daily life, going beyond the stereotype.

David Goldblatt's eye is often accurate, delicate and, as it's been said before, subtle; it is this subtlety that makes this exhibition all the more interesting, the artist avoids clichés and the 'deja vu' feeling that tends to define artwork which tries to reflect societies mired by all sorts of problems.

The works presented in this exhibition were published originally in David Goldblatt's books 'South Africa: The Structure of Things Then' and 'Intersections'.

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