David Goldblatt / Fietas

David Goldblatt 22 November - 12 December 2009

The Goodman Gallery // Project Space was pleased to have presented an exhibition of works by David Goldblatt. The exhibition opened on the 22 November 2009 and closed on the 12th of December 2009

“In the 1890s, shortly after Johannesburg started, three suburbs, bluntly named, were proclaimed for occupation by people of colour: Coolie Location, Kaffir Location and Malay Location. After an outbreak of plague in 1904, Coolie Location was razed. Kaffir Location became a cemetery for Whites. Malay Location, later named Pageview and called Fietas by its residents, became one of the few places in the city reserved for people of colour – Africans, Coloureds and Indians, none of whom had the vote. Whites in a neighbouring suburb, the people who did have the vote, didn’t like people of colour living so near and put pressure on the City Council to move them out. Gradually, on the pretext of public health and slum clearance, Africans were forced out and Coloureds were enticed with new suburbs. That left the Indians.

In 1950 the apartheid government passed the Group Areas Act, under which residential and business areas in cities, towns and villages were to be reserved for different ethnic groups. In 1956 Pageview/Fietas was declared a White Group Area. The Indians were to be removed to Lenasia, a Group Area reserved for them 40 kilometres beyond the city – Fietas was about five from the city centre.

Fietas was a small place with narrow streets and compact houses, heavily overcrowded, but with a strong sense of community. Rich and poor, Black and White had come from many miles to shop there. Three generations had grown and lived there. Using every loophole in the law the people of Fietas fought against removal. But eventually in 1977 police with dogs moved in and except for a very few, the last of the Indians of Fietas were forced out. Shops and houses were destroyed and new houses were built for low-income Whites.
These photographs were taken in 1976 and 1977, the last years of Fietas.”
David Goldblatt 2009



David Goldblatt

David Goldblatt (1930 – 2018) was born in Randfontein, a small mining town outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. Through his lens, South African he chronicled the people, structures and landscapes of his 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. In general, 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 African 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 is 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.