South African Photography in London

Check out the great South African exhibition at London’s prestigious V&A (Victoria & Albert Museum). The exhibition – ‘Figures & Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography’ – presents the vibrant and sophisticated photographic culture that has emerged in post-apartheid South Africa. It features works by some of the most exciting and inventive photographers living and working in South Africa today. The photographs on display respond to the country’s powerful rethinking of issues of identity across race, gender, class and politics.

The 17 photographers featured are some of the most exciting and inventive living and working in South Africa today. They range from established practitioners such as David Goldblatt, Santu Mofokeng, Pieter Hugo and Zwelethu Mthethwa, to a new generation including Zanele Muholi and Hassan and Husain Essop. View a sample of each one’s work below.

The exhibition is sponsored by Standard Bank and runs from 12 April – 17 July 2011. BOOK TICKETS NOW.

Here’s a sample of the photography on display…and a quote from each photographer:

"'Gail' (from the series Real Beauty), Jodi Bieber, 2008. Courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery"

“Even within a complex society such as South Africa, across all communities, women hold unnecessary perceptions of self doubt around themselves and their beauty from an early age.”

 

'Untitled I', Kudzanai Chiurai, 2009. Courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery

“The person I use for many of these portraits is essentially a performer; he’s a pop icon in South Africa who everyone knows from television and radio”

'Night Before Eid', Hasan & Husain Essop, 2009. Courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery

“Halaal Art” was something that started during our trip to Cuba. It was about the way we were living, the challenges we faced as Muslims in a country that didn’t have Islam”

'Peter Mogale's advert at the corner of 11 Avenue and 3 Street Lower Houghton, Johannesburg, 20 November 1999', David Goldblatt, 1999. Courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery

“In post-Apartheid South Africa I became acutely aware that little signs were mushrooming on our sidewalks and on our trees and poles advertising all kinds of services: painting, building, tilling, carpentry”

'Pieter and Maryna Vermeulen with Timana Phosiwa', Pieter Hugo. © Pieter Hugo. Courtesy of Michael Stevenson, Cape Town

“There’s something very condescending in assuming custodianship of other people’s representation.”

'Santos Cossa', Terry Kurgan, 2004. Courtesy of Terry Kurgan

“I started walking around the park and discovered, to my delight, that the park was full of street photographers”

'Madlisa' (Country Girls Series), Sabelo Mlangeni, 2009. © Sabelo Mlangeni. Courtesy of Michael Stevenson, Cape Town

“For me, coming out as a gay man with a dress, is a very political thing.”

'Martin Machapa' (from the series Beulahs), 2010. © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Michael Stevenson, Cape Town

“We’re not going to be here forever, and I wanted to make sure that we leave a history that is tangible to people who come after us.”

 

'Nousta, Rister and Noupa Mkansi at home in Dan, Tzaneen, their parents Richard and Onica are both dead' (from the series Child Headed Households), Santu Mofokeng, 2007. © Santu Mofokeng

“This series and the “Child Headed Household” series are related because both have to do with AIDS in some way”

'Untitled' (from The Brave Ones series), Zwelethu Mthethwa, 2010. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

“Because in my western thinking it’s very formal evening attire. Why do their shirts look like women’s blouses with frills? It’s fascinating.”

'Petros Village, Malawi, 2006', Guy Tillim, 2006. © Guy Tillim. Courtesy of Michael Stevenson, Cape Town

“I think in clichés of traditional, rural hospitality, custom, things time-honoured and unmolested by city life. But the sense of it is elusive, muted by prejudice, obscured by ignorance.”

'Once Removed' (Head I, II & III), Berni Searle, 2008. © Berni Searle. Courtesy of Michael Stevenson, Cape Town

“Although these are quiet works, there is a suggestion of suffocation, particularly as the hands are clasped, searching for comfort.”

'Street Party, Saxonwold' (from the series Security), Mikhael Subotzky, 2008. Courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery

“It includes a watched-over street party and a visual catalogue of the garden sheds or ‘Wendy houses’ that guards sit in to defend the houses and properties of their employers.”

'Woman on the footpath from Boa Vista to Roque Santeiro Market', Jo Ractliffe, 2007. © Jo Ractliffe. Courtesy of Michael Stevenson, Cape Town

‘The work is really looking at Luanda and Angola five years after a civil war that went on for 30 odd years”

'Young Afrikaner - a Self Portrait, Yo-Landi Vi$$er Fig. 1', Roelof Petrus van Wyk, 2009. © Roelof Petrus van Wyk. Courtesy of the artist

“I belong to Africa. Afrikaners are Africans. We have a very specific history as the oppressor here.”

'Lesego, Miriam Makeba Street, Newtown, Johannesburg', Nontsikelelo Veleko, 2007. Courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery

“I am interested in how we read fashion, and how my subjects use their clothes to construct, and often deconstruct, their guises of identity.”

'Soweto' (from the Edge of Town series), Graeme Williams, 2006. © Graeme Williams

“My modus operandi would be to drive around until I found something that resonated for me. I would wander into people’s homes and environments and it was so amazing how people just let me in.”