Cen­tre Pom­pi­dou, Paris, un­til 7 May 2018

Condé Nast House & Garden - - CULTURE - cen­tre­pom­pi­dou.fr/en

The more in­sti­tu­tion­ally can­on­ized of the two, per­haps, the new ret­ro­spec­tive of south african pho­tog­ra­pher david gold­blatt’s work presents a com­pre­hen­sive over­view of a life’s work. While there have been nu­mer­ous ret­ro­spec­tives of the artist’s work be­fore, the up­com­ing cen­tre Pom­pi­dou one – his first solo ex­hi­bi­tion in an art museum – is dis­tinct for plac­ing an em­pha­sis on his per­sonal ar­chive. ‘david was very gen­er­ous, open­ing all of the boxes and draw­ers of his ar­chive to us ,’ says ex­hi­bi­tion cur at or Karolin aziebinsk ale wandowska. span­ning david’ s ear­li­est teenage ex­per­i­ments with a cam­era from the mid 1940s to his ac­claimed im­ages of min­ers, afrikaner com­mu­ni­ties, and Jo­han­nes­burg, through to his most re­cent work, the ret­ro­spec­tive en­com­passes over 200 pho­to­graphs, more than 100 pre­vi­ously un­pub­lished doc­u­ments, and seven short films.

The de­ci­sion to fun­da­men­tally in­cor­po­rate the artist’s own run­ning com­men­tary into the ex­hi­bi­tion was an im­por­tant one for Karolina: ‘any­one who has had the chance to meet david in per­son, and to hear him speak­ing about his pho­to­graphs, knows how much his ex­pla­na­tions change our un­der­stand­ing of a given pho­to­graph. It is part of the phe­nom­e­non of his work. and for me, it was cru­cial to share this ex­pe­ri­ence with the view­ers.’ What be­comes ev­i­dent is that david’s voice is very much about be­ing suc­cinct and par­tic­u­lar. his pho­to­graphs are clear and strik­ing, and his (of­ten lengthy) ti­tles are di­rect and spe­cific.

Through the com­bi­na­tion of these el­e­ments, he is able to ground com­plex ideas in pre­cise im­agery. ac­cord­ing to Karolina, this is pre­cisely what al­lows for a body of work so un­wa­ver­ingly fo­cused on south africa to trans­late smoothly to in­ter­na­tional con­texts. ‘david’s work is not about cer­tainty, but about val­ues which are not nec­es­sar­ily in­her­ent only to south african his­tory. It is spe­cific and at the same time very uni­ver­sal work.’

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