David Goldblatt 4
David Goldblatt (b. 1930, Randfontein) is arguably an institution in South Africa. He has worked as a professional photographer since the early 1960s, and has developed a seminal oeuvre that can be understood as a critical dissection of South Africa’s society and landscape over five decades. More specifically, Goldblatt has concisely documented the ghostly impact of Apartheid during its peak and in its wake. Known for his lucid brand of humanism, Goldblatt’s images make apparent the unerring vestiges of the South African socio-political landscape. At the heart of Globlatt’s artistic enquiry is an inherent curiosity towards the manner in which values are constructed and marketed, tolerating the interpretation of a dominant moralism that still exists. His dissection of past metanarratives, including the affects and emulation of such power structures today, subtly yet critically unwraps the universal reasonings for Apartheid to have existed.
These values, acting as alibi’s to oppression and degradation, are still etched into the landscapes, personalities, and architectures of the present. Goldblatt captures this oscillation of power and history, tolerating a brief yet poetic insight into the context of people’s lives before and after Apartheid. His images are rooted in conflict and dissent, evoking palimpsest-like portraits of Apartheid, subtly enforcing an engagement with the consequences of our morals, truths, and norms. From this context he communicates how frivolous certain separations in society can be, specifically regarding issues of class, race, and status. Goldblatt’s depictions of a stillfragmented, yet somehow cohering South African landscape have been widely dispersed and exhibited extensively abroad and locally, notably being the first South African to have a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York in 1998. Aside from his prolific career as a photographer,
Golblatt has been actively involved with community developments and cultural establishments. Most notably in 1989, as an attempt to introduce photography to disadvantaged communities and bridge the often-elitist artistic and cultural rift between rich and poor in South Africa, Goldblatt established the Market Photography Workshop in Newtown, Johannesburg. Over the years this school has contributed enormously to the development of South African photography, and South Africa’s position as a dominant player in the world. Amongst its alumni are some of South Africa’s greatest talents, including: Jodi Bieber, Zanele Muholi, Sabelo Mlangeni, Musa Nxumalo, and Nontsikelelo Veleko. Goldblatt has exhibited at the acclaimed Documenta 11 (2002) and Documenta 12 (2007) exhibitions in Kassel, Germany. His Retrospective, David Goldblatt – Fifty-One Years, was exhibited worldwide, including a show at the Johannesburg Art
A catalogue detailing the works and artists included in the third iJusi portfolio, curated by Pieter Hugo.