April 20, 2010

South African Photographs: David Goldblatt - NYC

Photographs Exhibition > New York

South African Photographs: David Goldblatt

The Jewish Museum, NYC

May 2 - September 19, 2010

The Jewish Museum in New York will present South African Photographs: David Goldblatt, an exhibition of 150 black-and-white silver gelatin prints taken between 1948 and 2009. The photographs on view focus on South Africa’s human landscape in the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

David Goldblatt has used his camera to explore South Africa’s mines; the descendants of seventeenth-century Dutch settlers called Afrikaners who were the architects of apartheid; life in Boksburg, a small middle-class white community; the Bantustans or “puppet states” in which blacks were forced to live; structures built for purposes ranging from shelter to commemoration; and Johannesburg, the city in which Goldblatt lives. South African Photographs: David Goldblatt is the largest New York City exhibition of Goldblatt’s work since 2001.

David Goldblatt is recipient of the 2009 Henri Cartier-Bresson Award and the prestigious Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography. As a photographer, Goldblatt has not documented major political events or horrifying incidents of violence. His work is characterized by exacting compositions, the precise play of light and shadow on his prints, the deep engagement with his subjects, and the multiple meanings and complicated realities that surface in his images.

David Goldblatt once wrote, “I am neither an activist nor a missionary. Yet I had begun to realize an involvement with this place and the people among whom I lived that would not be stilled and that I needed to grasp and probe. I wanted to explore the specifics of our lives, not in theories but in the grit and taste and touch of things, and to bring those specifics into that particular coherence that the camera both enables and demands.”

Born and raised in Randfontein, South Africa, a gold-mining town near Johannesburg, in 1930, David Goldblatt has been photographing the changing political landscape of his country for more than five decades. He is descended from Lithuanian Jews who fled Europe in the 1890s to escape religious persecution. His father passed on to him, the artist said, “a strong sense of outrage at anything that smacked of racism.” Growing up in segregated South Africa, he witnessed the deep humiliation and discrimination suffered by blacks and experienced anti-Semitism personally. These experiences have informed his work.

David Goldblatt’s written commentary is an essential part of his work and is presented throughout the exhibition in the texts and labels that accompany the photographs. A context room in the exhibition will feature a timeline juxtaposing events in South African history and David Goldblatt’s life; books published by the photographer; photography magazines that inspired him; a large map of South Africa; and a 22-minute excerpt of David Goldblatt: In Black and White, a 1985 film originally aired on Channel 4 Television in Great Britain.

The exhibition has been organized by The Jewish Museum’s Senior Curator, Susan Tumarkin Goodman.

Related Exhibition
South African Projections: Films by William Kentridge will be on view at The Jewish Museum from May 2 through September 19, 2010. The exhibition features four films from South African artist William Kentridge’s Drawings for Projection. They portray fictional Jewish characters who embody the political and moral legacy of apartheid.

Previous Posts about The Jewish Museum Exhibitions

The Jewish Museum
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South African Photographs: David Goldblatt is made possible through the generosity of an anonymous donor in memory of Curtis Hereld; the Joseph Alexander Foundation; Goldie and David Blanksteen; Nisa and Bradley Amoils; The Long Island Community Foundation - Stanley & Marion Bergman Family Charitable Fund; the Robert I. Goldman Foundation; the estate of Rhoda Cutler; and other donors.

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