I first ‘met’ David Goldblatt at the opening of the FNB Joburg Art Fair in 2013. By met I mean, he was the opening speaker. And no, I didn’t speak to him, because I’m as shy as a mouse in the face of my favourite artists.
I don’t think I was the only one shy in the room, however. One of South Africa’s greatest photographers, Goldblatt is a legend not just for his subject matter, but also for his prolific body of work in a career that spans more than 50 years. He has exhibited in museums such as Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) New York (the first South African to be given a one-person exhibition), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the International Centre of Photography in New York and the Barbican Centre in London.
For over three decades Goldblatt has travelled South Africa photographing sites that tell a historical narrative: monuments, as well as private, religious and secular sites that reveal something about the people who built them. For our viewing pleasure, ‘Structures of Dominion and Democracy’ is currently on show at Goodman Gallery Cape Town. The photographs offer a personal glimpse into the everyday, each place containing a story. He has the profound ability to convey the story of a single person, whole community or specific landmark in his photographs.
From the 1980s and 90s, he photographed structures that, from about 1660 to 1990, were evidence of Whites gradual dominion over South Africa and its peoples. ‘It was the values we had expressed in those structures that I sought to elicit and explore in photographs and text,’ says the artist.
‘Beginning in 1999 – five years after the first democratic elections – and continuing into the present, I have engaged in a similar photography of some of the structures that have emerged with our democracy and that I believe are expressive of values in this new way of being in our society.’
Worthwhile in every way, the photographs on exhibit at the Goodman come mainly from the time of and following the democratic election, and offer a photographic, artistic, and deeply historical depiction of South Africa.
‘Structures of Dominion and Democracy’ is showing at the Goodman until 6 December 2014
Where 3rd Floor, Fairweather House, 176 Sir Lowry Rd, Woodstock
Gallery Hours Tuesday to Friday 09:30 am–5:30 pm, Saturday 10 am–4 pm, Closed Monday
Contact +27 21 462 7573/4, www.goodman-gallery.com
Photographs David Goldblatt