Some Things Old, Some Things New Opens At Goodman Gallery Johannesburg Tommorrow

By Novell Zwange – (picutre credits) David Goldblatt. Refugees from Zimbabwe sheltering in the Central Methodist Church on Pritchard Street, in the city. 22 March 2009

JOHANNESBURG – TJ Some things old, Some things new, and some much the same Joburg photographs by David Goldblatt  opens at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg, tommorow Thursday 7 October 2010 at 18h00, and a walkabout by the artist will be on Saturday 9 October at 10h30

Photographer David Goldblatt brings together old and new photographs of Johannesburg in a solo exhibition at Goodman Gallery titled TJ: Some things old, some things new and some much the same. TJ – an obsolete acronym stemming from the South African pre-computerised system of motorcar registrations – stood for “Transvaal, Johannesburg”. These letters, Goldblatt explains, “implied a certain loyalty”. While some of the photographs to be on show at the Goodman Gallery were taken in what Goldblatt refers to as the “time of TJ”, the title refers to the notion that particular aspects of the city have changed very little since that era and in some cases, worsened. The exhibition ultimately elucidates on these particular aspects of the sprawling city of Johannesburg, which both infuriate and astound the photographer.

“One of the most damaging things that apartheid did to us,” Goldblatt says, “was that it denied us the experience of each other’s lives. Apartheid has succeeded all too well. It might have failed in its fundamental purpose of ruling the country for the next thousand years in that fashion, but it succeeded in dividing us very deeply and it will take a long time to overcome that.” This deep-rooted division is further exacerbated by a continuing social and urban fragmentation. While TJ includes old black and white photographs from an earlier era, new works explore the intricacies of crime, housing and planning in Joburg.

As always Goldblatt’s photographic style is unaffected and direct, reflecting art critic Ken Johnson’s observation that the “effect of Mr. Goldblatt’s understated, antisensational photographs and the spare words that accompany them is cumulative. They build into an infectiously mournful beauty. Even in pictures that seem almost nondescript… Mr. Goldblatt’s compositions have a classical elegance and a reticence that speaks volumes.”

David Goldblatt was born in 1930 in Randfontein, South Africa and since the early 1960s he has devoted all of his time to photography. In 1989 Goldblatt founded the Market Photography Workshop in Johannesburg, with, he explains “the object of teaching visual literacy and photographic skills to young people, with particular emphasis on those disadvantaged by apartheid”. In 1998 he was the first South African to be given a one-person exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York. Goldblatt received an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts at the University of Cape Town in 2001. The same year a retrospective exhibition of his work, David Goldblatt Fifty-One Years, began a tour of galleries and museums around the world, travelling to New York, Barcelona, Rotterdam, Lisbon, Oxford, Brussels, Munich and Johannesburg. He was one of the few South African artists to exhibit at Documenta 11 (2002) and Documenta 12 (2007) in Kassel, Germany. Goldblatt recieved an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from the University of the Witwatersrand 2008. He recently held solo exhibitions at the Jewish Museum (which travels to the South African Jewish Museum in October this year) and the New Museum, both in New York and is currently exhibiting alongside photographers such as Walker Evans and Bruce Nauman in The Original Copy: Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to Today at MoMA. Goldblatt’s photographs are in the collections of the South African National Gallery, Cape Town; the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and MoMA. He has published several books of his work. Goldblatt is the recipient of the 2006 Hasselblad award, the 2009 Henri Cartier-Bresson Award and was recently announced the 2010 Lucie Award Lifetime Achievement Honoree.

The exhibition runs from 7 October–6 November 2010.