Middle East & Africa

David Goldblatt
Saturday afternoon in Sunward Park, Boksburg

David Goldblatt’s “Boksburg series” is a telling portrait of the small town that became a notorious symbol of racism in South Africa. The photographic essay negotiates the troublesome landscape of the apartheid through capturing the intimate in-between moments that are seemingly inconsequential and visually inoffensive. However, it is in this series that Goldblatt provides a candid insight into the white communities during the apartheid. “Saturday afternoon in Sunward Park, Boksburg” shows a white man mowing a lawn. Visually, the photograph is entirely uninvasive, however, the pretext to which the image speaks — the apartheid — is deeply embedded into which is unseen. Using ambiguity of narrative Goldblatt presents a suburban scene within which suffering and protest is embedded so deeply into that which can seem like nothing or nowhere. His photographs of Boksburg, an unremarkable middle-class white community of the kind that was proliferating in South Africa during the 1970s, have multiple references in the contemporary milieu: racism, capitalism, suburbanism and settlement.

Since the 1960s, David Goldblatt (b. Randfontein, South Africa, 1930) has focused his photographic practice on examining the way in which racism is manifested in the everyday white middle-class communities of South Africa. The artist’s black and white photographs are intimate portraits of South African society and landscape, often framed with a seemingly haphazard composition. The photographs are his personal observations of what it meant to be Black and White during the apartheid and a generous offering to the viewer of his visually powerful perspective. In 1989 Goldblatt founded the Market Photography Workshop in Johannesburg and in 1998 he was the first South African to be given a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York.