The Goodman Gallery is pleased to present major photographs in the ongoing Structures series by David Goldblatt. Structures is a major body of work described by Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer as “an extraordinary visual history of a country and its people."
For over three decades Goldblatt has travelled South Africa photographing sites weighted with historical narrative: monuments, as well as private, religious and secular sites that reveal something about the people who built them.
These sites also allow us a glimpse into the everyday. Each place is a repository, a landscape containing an epic story that has involved whole communities. The experience is sometimes told through the memorialising of remarkable individuals. Titled Structures of Dominion & Democracy, the exhibition traverses two distinct eras in our history. Instead of the word ‘Baasskap’, Goldblatt refers to the era of inequality as Dominion (see artist’s statement, below).
But, Goldblatt notes, the new exhibition concentrates on, but is not entirely devoted to the period after the fall of apartheid: “I’m mainly showing Democracy. And the reason for this is that people here are familiar with Baaskap and the period of apartheid, but they are not very familiar with looking at what is emerging now.”
By looking at transforming spaces, Structures of Dominion & Democracy offers us a way of understanding the transformation of a people.
ARTIST’S STATEMENT BY DAVID GOLDBLATT
In the 1980s and ‘90s I photographed structures that we South Africans had made during the Era of Baasskap, that time, from about 1660 until 1990, in which Whites gradually came to exert dominion over all of 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.
Beginning in 1999 – five years after the first democratic elections that brought the African National Congress to power – 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, still nascent way of being in our society.
The photographs in this, the Goodman Gallery exhibition of 2014, come mainly from the time of Democracy.
David Goldblatt was born in 1930 in Randfontein, South Africa and since the early 1960s he has devoted all of his time to photography. In 1989 Goldblatt founded the Market Photography Workshop in Johannesburg. In 1998 he was the first South African to be given a one-person exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York. Goldblatt received an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts at the University of Cape Town in 2001. The same year a retrospective exhibition of his work, David Goldblatt Fifty-One Years, began a tour of galleries and museums around the world. He was one of the few South African artists to exhibit at Documenta 11 (2002) and Documenta 12 (2007) in Kassel, Germany. Goldblatt received an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2008. He has held solo exhibitions at the Jewish Museum and the New Museum, both in New York and exhibited alongside photographers such as Walker Evans and Bruce Nauman in The Original Copy: Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to Today at MoMA. His work was included in the exhibition ILLUMInations at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011, and has featured on major shows at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the International Centre of Photography in New York and the Barbican Centre in London. He has published several books of his work. Goldblatt is the recipient of the 2006 Hasselblad award, the 2009 Henri Cartier-Bresson Award and is the 2010 Lucie Award Lifetime Achievement Honoree. Goldblatt received the ICP Infinity Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2013.
David Goldblatt (1930 – 2018) was born in Randfontein, a small mining town outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. He began exploring the medium of photography after matriculating in 1948 but only formally made photography his profession after his father died in 1962 and the family business, a mining concession store, was sold. In the years that followed, while Goldblatt supported his family through photography commissions and magazine work, he produced more than ten major photographic series, documenting the people, landscapes and structures of South Africa.
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.