Edition 2006


“I’d been wanting to see his photos for a long time, and his work on his home country is remarkable. I really do admire this African photographer. South Africa has been through the throes of apartheid and is now slowly emerging from its “Middle Ages”. I’m just back from Johannesburg, and the country fascinates me. It was Martin Parr who suggested showing Goldblatt, and I was delighted”.
Raymond Depardon
David Goldblatt is an exemplary documentary photographer. He has been photographing his home country of South Africa for over 50 years and has documented the struggles and changes in this volatile and compelling country. Goldblatt is still shooting now, with the same consistent enthusiasm that has been his hallmark throughout his long career. What gives his work such resonance is the way in which he reveals the layers of politics and meaning in the everyday life of South Africa. He achieves this, not so much by photographing head on, but rather taking a sideways glance at these issues. By doing this he has continued to reinvent the language of representation of South Africa through photography. Goldblatt’s work has evolved as much as the society he has documented, by putting his finger on the pulse of change and its vulnerability. This entirely new selection of his work will show 8 very distinctive bodies of work.
Black and White Series
1. The Early Icons. Selected from his early work and books “On the Mines” (1973) and “Some Afrikaners Photographed” (1975). He documents ordinary life during the earlier days of apartheid.
2. The Transported. A selection from this work shot in the 1983/4 showing black workers commuting on buses, to and from their jobs. Millions of blacks were forced because of apartheid, to travel from their tribal homelands to cities for work.
3. In Boksburg. This important project is about the small town middle class white community of Boksburg, near Johannesburg, taken in 1979/80.
4. Particulars. Shot in the mid 1970s these images show close-up details of both blacks and whites, often relaxing in a park. The book of this work, published in 2004, won the Rencontres d’Arles book prize.
5. South Africa: The Structure of Things Then. This substantial body of work was mainly taken in the 1980s, during the most oppressive days of apartheid.
Colours series
6. Painters.In the suburbs of Johannesburg, Goldblatt has photographed small advertisements for black painters and handymen as part of the urban landscape.
7. Municipal Office Workers. Part of the new system of government is a new municipal dispensation. Goldblatt has photographed both individual and groups of black and white Municipal workers in their offices, or at their work location.
8. Johannesburg Streets. Goldblatt has photographed with a large format camera many urban street scenes in Johannesburg. Although Goldblatt is known as a photographer, he has never had a major exhibition in France. This exhibition will offer a unique opportunity to explore in depth, how his work has developed throughout his long career. This will also be the first chance to see how his new colour work relates to his earlier black and white photography, and to understand the natural progression to be found in his work.
Curator: Martin Parr.

Exhibition co-produced with Forma, Centro Internazionale di Fotografia, Milano and Fotomuseum, Winterthur, Switzerland. Exhibition organised in collaboration with The Goodman Gallery (Johannesburg) and the Krings-Ernst Gallery (Cologne).

  • Institutional partners

    • République Française
    • Région Provence Alpes Côté d'Azur
    • Département des Bouches du Rhône
    • Arles
    • Le Centre des monuments nationaux est heureux de soutenir les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles en accueillant des expositions dans l’abbaye de Montmajour
  • Main partners

    • Fondation LUMA
    • BMW
    • SNCF
    • Kering
  • Media partners

    • Arte
    • Lci
    • Konbini
    • Le Point
    • Madame Figaro
    • France Culture