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South African Photographs: David Goldblatt

May 2, 2010 - September 19, 2010


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Galleries Early Work & Mines | Afrikaners | Bantustans | Boksburg | Structures | Johannesburg

Perhaps the utter insanity of the apartheid dream was nowhere more apparent than in the system of puppet “states” set up by the government for the Black people of South Africa. Into these wholly uneconomic fragments of former tribal reserves, comprising some 13% of our land, some 80% of our population was somehow to be compressed, there to enjoy full rights of citizenship denied them in the “broader” South Africa, which was, for most, the country of their birth.

These photographs come from six of the ten Bantustans, as the puppet states were called. There I found people clinging to ancient values and ways of life while trying to survive on barely sustainable subsistence farming, the pensions of the “grannies,” and the money sent to them by their migrant breadwinners working in the cities and mines of “White” South Africa.