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Photography and New Media in South Africa, 1950 to the Present
Tosha Grantham

Photography and video are powerful tools for shaping perception and effecting change, as is convincingly portrayed through the images in this catalogue. Featuring the works of sixteen South African photographers and video artists from 1950 to the present, the catalogue was conceived to accompany the exhibition of the same name at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The cultural and political turbulence of South Africa has lent particular urgency to the role of these media. The eight sections of this catalogue explore a broad spectrum of social and aesthetic themes that have not been brought together in this way before in the United States or abroad.

Darkroom focuses on four generations of artists, including those who lived and worked primarily in South Africa during the apartheid era (1948-1994) and a younger generation that has gained wide international prominence since apartheid’s end. The title refers to both literal and metaphorical dark rooms: the actual place where photography and video is made or seen; the artistic isolation created by apartheid; and the psychological and physical hardship of making meaningful work under threat of imprisonment, torture, and exile.

The artists include native South Africans and long-term South African residents from Germany, the United States, and England.

Roger Ballen, Ian Berry, David Goldblatt, William Kentridge, Peter Magubane, Thando Mam, Senzeni Marasela, Santu Mofokeng, Zweiethu Mthethwa, Robin Rhode,Tracey Rose, Jürgen Schadeberg, Berni Searle, Andrew Tshabangu, Nontsikelelo Veleko, Sue Williamson

160 pages, 25x23cm, paperback

Published by Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
October 2009