Writing Art History Since 2002

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David Goldblatt has been awarded the prestigious Henri Cartier-Bresson Award (2009), for his project ‘TJ’, an ongoing examination of the city of Johannesburg. The award is intended for a photographer of exceptional ability who has an established career and has completed a significant body of work. This award will be followed by an exhibition of David Goldblatt’s essay of Johannesburg photographs at the Henri Cartier-Bresson in 2010. Goldblatt has been photographing and documenting South African society for over 50 years. Born in Randfontein in 1930 to parents who came to South Africa to escape the persecution of Lithuanian Jews in 1890, he was simultaneously part of privileged white society and a victim of religious persecution and alienation. Motivated by his contradictory position in South African society, Goldblatt began photographing this society, and in 1963 decided to devote all of his time to photography. Goldblatt’s work focuses on critical explorations of South African society. While he uses photography as a means of accessing and exploring people and societies, David Goldblatt(he?) is acutely aware of the ethics of photography, and has used the camera as a way of capturing the complexities and intricacies of the specific conditions and situations that he photographs. His photographs are neither propaganda nor violently provocative, but rather become complex, meditative documents that are open to interpretation and that permeate far more deeply, and for longer than the initial shock and violence associated with documentary and news photography. David Goldblatt is currently showing a photographic essay entitled ‘Intersections Intersected’ at the New Museum, New York, U.S.A. This exhibition runs from 15 July to 11 October 2009.

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