David Goldblatt: The Ultimate Portrait, via Design Indaba
David Goldblatt at Design Indaba
David Goldblatt began photographing in 1948, the year the National Party won the South African elections on a platform of racism and segregation under the slogan of ‘apartheid.’
He’s been documenting the ever-changing South Africa for more than 60 years; for me, more than any other photo journalist, he epitomises the idea of photography as historical record.
Now well into his 80s, David is still an inspiration, with multitudes of awards behind his name, including the 2006 Hasselblad Award, the 2009 Henri Cartier-Bresson Award, and a 2013 Lifetime Achievement Infinity Award from The International Center of Photographry.
Earlier this year, I read Ivan Vladislavic’s beautifully-written Double Negative, which he wrote as a response to David’s photographs. When Double Negative was packaged with David’s coffee table book TJ, this story of fictional Johannesburg photographer Neville Lister won the Kraszna-Krausz Award at the Sony World Photography Awards for 2011’s Best Photography Book.
David was one of the speakers at this year’s Design Indaba, and probably the main reason I was sad I didn’t buy tickets before they sold out. So I was happy to find this fascinating short video with excerpts from his Design Indaba presentation.
It’s a must-watch for all photographers and will remind you how, as he says, “Photography has the capacity for recognising things and bringing them out of obscurity, or out of where they are into another frame so that one looks at it somewhat differently.”
I’d also recommend you watch the short documentary made about David and his work as part of his Lifetime Achievement Infinity Award. As he says in the intro to that, “How do we come to the values that we hold and how do we express these values? These to me are the vital questions. Whether or not photography is particularly suited to doing this I don’t know; I only know that for me this is the medium through which I try to question these things.”
David is represented by The Goodman Gallery.