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Chasing Shadows: Santu Mofokeng in Paris

The exhibition Chasing Shadows, at Jeu de Paume, brings together a unique selection of the photographic essays made by Santu Mofokeng over the last thirty years.

Afoor Family bedroom, Vaalrand, 1988 Courtesy Lunetta Bartz, MAKER, Johannesburg © Santu Mofokeng via jeu de paume

Santu Mofokeng began his career as a street-photographer in the 1970s. He portrayed his family and friends in Soweto, South Africa. In 1985 he joined a photographers’ collective and began documenting the anti-apartheid struggle by covering that which was topical.

Laying of Hands – Johannesburg-Soweto Line, 1986 Courtesy Lunetta Bartz, MAKER, Johannesburg © Santu Mofokeng via jeu de paume

In 1986, Mofokeng began his ongoing research in places of religious ritual as well as his first photo essay: Train Church. At a time when South Africa was in a state of emergency due to apartheid, Mofokeng opted for photographic essays rather than documentary photography since this allowed for far greater complexity, rather than simply being able to depict an over-politicised depiction of repression and resistance.

Winter in Tembisa, c. 1991 Courtesy Lunetta Bartz, MAKER, Johannesburg © Santu Mofokeng via jeu de paume

In 1996, the artist began work on his photographic essay Chasing Shadows, a work still in progress today. His focus this time around is on religious rituals and the sites in which they are practised such as the caves of Motouleng and Mautse. In these pieces Mofokeng mostly probes the relation between landscape, memory and religion.

Comrade -Sister, White City Jabavu, 1985 Courtesy Lunetta Bartz, MAKER, Johannesburg © Santu Mofokeng via jeu de paume

“Chasing Shadows – Santu Mofokeng, thirty years of photographic essays” presents a selection of more than 200 images. The photographic essays on display, some of which are lifelong works in progress, range from images of the Soweto of the artist’s youth to representations of the self and family histories of black South Africans. The exhibition also includes Mofokeng’s most recent project: Radiant Landscapes, commissioned especially for this retrospective.

Starting at Jeu de Paume, Paris (until 25 September 2011), the show will travel to the Kunsthalle Bern (07 October-27 November 2011), the Bergen Kunsthall (January-March 2012), Extra City Kunsthal Antwerpen (April-July 2012), and the Wits Art Museum Johannesburg (2013).

For further details, visit: www.jeudepaume.org.

written by webo29

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