, Wood Street
(12th December 2008 - 29th February 2009)
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'.