1930 - 2018
The house-painter and his family, Pretoria Street, Hillbrow, January 1973
© The David Goldblatt Legacy Trust
Courtesy The David Goldblatt Legacy Trust and Goodman Gallery.
SITE 2: 52 Dorp St
ABOUT THE ARTIST
David Goldblatt HonFRPS was a South African photographer noted for his portrayal of South Africa during the period of apartheid. After apartheid had ended he concentrated more on the country's landscapes. What differentiates Goldblatt's body of work from those of other anti-apartheid artists, is that he photographed issues that went beyond the violent events of apartheid, and reflected the conditions that led up to them. His forms of protest had a subtlety that traditional documentary photographers did not always have.
Goldblatt was born in Randfontein, a small mining town outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. Through his lens, he chronicled the people of South Africa, the structures and landscapes of the country from 1948, through the rise of Afrikaner Nationalism, the apartheid regime and into the democratic era – until his death in June, 2018. In particular, Goldblatt documented the people, landscapes and industry of the Witwatersrand, the resource-rich area in which he grew up and lived, where the local economy was based chiefly on mining.
Goldblatt’s subject matter spanned the whole of the country geographically and politically from sweeping landscapes of the Karoo desert, to the arduous commutes of migrant black workers, forced to live in racially segregated areas. His broadest series, which spans six decades of photography, examines how South Africans have expressed their values through the structures, physical and ideological, that they have built.
In 1989, Goldblatt founded the Market Photography Workshop, a training institution in Johannesburg, for aspiring photographers. In 1998 he was the first South African to have a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 2001, a retrospective of his work, David Goldblatt Fifty-One Years began a tour of galleries and museums.
He was one of the few South African artists to exhibit at Documenta 11 (2002) and Documenta 12 (2007) in Kassel, Germany. He has held solo exhibitions at the Jewish Museum and the New Museum, both in New York. His work was included in the exhibition ILLUMInations at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011, and has featured on shows at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Barbican Centre in London. In 2017, Goldblatt installed a series of portraits from his photographic essay Ex-Offenders in former prisons in Birmingham and Manchester.
The portraits depict men and women, from South Africa and the UK, at the scene of their crimes, with accompanying texts that relate the subjects’ stories in their words. In the last year of his life, two major retrospectives were opened at Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. The Goldblatt Archive is held by Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut.
Goldblatt was the recipient of the 2006 Hasselblad award, the 2009 Henri Cartier-Bresson Award, the 2013 ICP Infinity Award and in 2016, he was awarded the Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres by the Ministry of Culture of France.
THEME & CURATORIAL STATEMENT
Freedom, I dream up for myself and others.
Inkululeko, ndiphuphela mna nabanye.
Vryheid, ek droom vir myself en ander.
Freedom, I dream up for myself and others, is an exploration of a visual language that bridges gaps between cultures, creates understanding, and inspires empathy and connection. This photographic presentation transcends language barriers and allows people to convey ideas and concepts using imagery and visual cues.
The works selected in this exhibition are intended to be more mindful of the subtleties of our dreams and how we view the world. The works are intended to resonate with us all, and with the medium of photography it does so in its purest form, it does not distort.
Photography is a tool that never warps or ages. This medium teaches us to look, to look again, and to do so harder. This visual universal language has the ability to change perception, encourage understanding, and create a sense of urgency when needed. It has been the reason to incite human action and at other times to inspire human connection.
This exhibition explores the Masters of Photography who draw inspiration from the African continent. It encourages the audience to foster meaningful dialogue in investigating the archive. The artists have pushed boundaries within the medium of photography and created works that have stood the test of time. Archives are not just windows into the past, they are the authentic creations of individual people who lived before us and still live among us. They are the archaeology that was never buried.