This exhibition, produced and organized by the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), is the first retrospective presentation of David Goldblatt's work in Europe. From June 30 until September 1, Witte de With will exhibit more than 200 images by the South African photographer. The show reflects half a century of Goldblatt's meticulous observation of the realities of his country from 1948 until 1999.
For Goldblatt, photography is a tool that can be used to analyze social and cultural structures. His photographic documents are a detailed and comprehensive investigation of the tensions and the fictions of life in both urban and rural South Africa. As a whole, they constitute a remarkable testimony to contemporary African society.
Goldblatt belongs to the great tradition of 20th-century documentary photographers, as with Walker Evans, whose work has already been shown at Witte de With. His primary objective is to portray the often grim conditions in which ordinary people live and work, manifesting an explicitly critical consciousness and calling for reform. On the one hand he bears witness to the steady deterioration of the urban landscapes and the unstoppable advance of the processes of change and of modernization, while on the other he reflects the solidarity and the spirit of unity achieved by communities in their most adverse moments.
This retrospective put together by freelance curator Corinne Diserens and Okwui Enwezor, artistic director of Documenta 11, presents a broad selection of photographs taken in different communities in South Africa, where the memory of recent history - that of the Industrial Revolution and its direct descendant, colonialism, and of the apartheid era and thereafter - is engaged. It also complements and expands on certain aspects of Hilton Judin's exhibition blank_Architecture, Apartheid and After, held at the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam in 1998 as well as on the accompanying publication.
The exhibition has already toured the AXA Gallery in New York and the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona. After being shown at the Witte de With it will travel to the Centro Cultural de Belem in Lisbon (October 2002 - January 2003), the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford (Spring 2003), the Museum Africa, Johannesburg (2003), and the South African National Gallery, Cape Town (2004).
Chairman of the Boksburg Town
Council Management Committee,
Councillor Chris Smith and Mrs. Smith
at home, 23 June 1980