PDN Photo of the Day

A South African Gaze

It’s been 30 years since the renowned photographer David Goldblatt (1930-2018) founded Market Photo Workshop (MPW), a non-profit photography education center in Johannesburg, South Africa. “Transitions: South Africa,” an exhibition at Bronx Documentary Center, honors the work MPW has undertaken over the past three decades to help bring photography to the forefront of social consciousness in South Africa.

Through its training programs focused on photography and multimedia, and its public programming, MPW has played a significant role in shifting the visual dynamic in South Africa from the colonial gaze to stories that challenge racist perspectives. 

In the late 20th century, journalism and documentary photography began to thrive in South Africa as people fought for their independence. Photography was used as a tool to challenge the narratives of those in power and show the realities of key political and historical events.

Opening its doors five years before the end of Apartheid in 1994, “the work of MPW has also become a powerful resource in documenting current issues, which helps set the conversation for the future—and gives individuals the power to create their own narratives,” writes MPW in a statement. These new images and narratives from South Africa have reached around the globe, crossing boundaries of language and culture, and have helped shape social consciousness in the minds of viewers.

The images in “Transitions,” created by MPW alumni, aim to show the contemporary role of photography in South Africa and explore how the former students view their communities and South African society at large.

“Transitions: South Africa”
Bronx Documentary Center
Curated by Nathi Khumalo, Khona Dlamini, Lekgetho Makola, Michael Kamber and Cynthia Rivera
Through May 26, 2019

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