Exhibition, Goodman Gallery, London, until 25th August 2020
David Goldblatt | Johannesburg 1948 – 2018
Header image: Margaret Mcingana, who later became famous as the singer Margaret Singana, at home, Sunday afternoon, Zola, Soweto, October 1970
Born in 1930 in Randfontein, David Goldblatt’s photography captured a reality of living through South African apartheid that was never shown on the news, his images conveying a very real picture of life and the people in his homeland; he is famously quoted as saying, “I was drawn not to the events of the time but to the quiet and commonplace where nothing ‘happened’ and yet all was contained and imminent”.
Domestic worker on Abel Road, Hillbrow, March 1973
His interest in taking photographs started at a young age, but running the family business sidelined his pursuits behind the camera until 1963, when he sold the company to focus solely on a career in photography. Having become a part of numerous artistic circles in Johannesburg, he was able to integrate with a wide range of groups in the community which, in turn, allowed him access to shoot in situations and capture portraits where others couldn’t. As his love for photography grew, Goldblatt founded the Market Photography Workshop to allow for visual literacy and photographic skills to be taught to the younger generation. He went on to receive numerous awards and honorary doctorates and to have his work exhibited worldwide.
Baby with child-minders and dogs in the Alexandra Street Park, Hillrow, 1972
This latest exhibition captures his view of Johannesburg from 1948 until his death in 2018; the shots included will provide an important social document for many years to come. Excerpts from the press release below:
Left: An office worker from Tsmeb on holiday,
in a rooming house on Abel Road, Hillbrow, March 1973
Right: Rochelle and Samantha Adkins, Hillbrow, 1972
‘Goodman Gallery presents Johannesburg 1948 – 2018, the acclaimed South African photographer David Goldblatt’s first major solo exhibition in London since 1986. Renowned for a lifetime of photography exploring his home country, Goldblatt produced an unparalleled body of work within the city of Johannesburg, where he lived for 70 years. At age 17, Goldblatt would hitchhike from Randfontein, the small mining town where he was born, into Johannesburg. He walked around the city until the next morning, talking to night watchmen and following his intuition: “People would ask me what I was doing, and I would say, ‘I’m poeging. I’m walking around the city; I’m learning the city, and trying to take photographs.” This process became the foundation of his practice.
Coronation Restaurant in the Diagonal St Fruit Market, January 1962
The exhibition maps Goldblatt’s evolution of work in a city divided by structural racism and subject to waves of trauma and resistance. Goldblatt was engaged in the conditions of society – the values by which people lived – rather than the climactic outcomes of those conditions. He intended to discover and probe these values through the medium of photography…
Schoolboy, Hillbrow, June 1972
David Goldblatt died at his home in Johannesburg in June 2018. Working until shortly before his death, he remained, to the last, “a self-appointed observer and critic of the society into which I was born”. In 2011, art critic and social commentator Mark Gevisser described Goldblatt as “the doyen of South African photography” who cast “so clear an eye over the South African landscape […] that he has become the country’s visual conscience”.’
Portrait photographer and client, Braamfontein, 1955
David Goldblatt | Johannesburg 1948 – 2018 is on now at Goodman Gallery until 25th August 2020
Goodman Gallery, 26 Cork Street, London W1S 3ND
Opening times Mon – Fri 11am – 5pm
As with all public spaces, if you’re feeling unwell please stay at home to keep everyone safe
All images and exhibition details are reproduced with permission from Goodman Gallery; photos are © David Goldblatt, please do not reproduce without agreement
Intro by Siobhan
6th August 2020