Darkroom: Photography and New Media in South Africa, 1950

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Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2009 - Art - 150 pages
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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 images appear as they are organized in the galleries: eighty-six photographs, eight photo-based installations, and six video installations. The artists include native South Africans and long-term South African residents from Germany, the United States, and England.

Contributing Artists: Roger Ballen * Ian Berry * David Goldblatt * William Kentridge * Peter Magubane * Thando Mama * Senzeni Marasela * Santu Mofokeng * Zweiethu Mthethwa * Robin Rhode * Tracey Rose * Jürgen Schadeberg * Berni Searle * Andrew Tshabangu * Nontsikeleio Veleko * Sue Williamson

Distributed for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

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Photography and New Media
Then Now and Next
South Africa in Focus

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About the author (2009)

Tosha Grantham is the Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. She was the curated the exhibit on which this catalogue is based. Deborah Willis is an art photographer as well as a leading historian of African American photography and a curator of African American culture. She is a MacArthur Fellow and a past recipient of the Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation award. Isolde Brielmaier is a Professor of Art at Vassar College and the founding director of the Brooklyn Institute of Contemporary Art. Tumelo Mosaka, originally from South Africa, is Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum.

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