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Monday, September 29, 2008


Durban Art Gallery hosts exhibition curated by Heidi Erdmann and Jacob Lebeko. (Pic: "white stick for the Arctic: inside the house the mother did not build" by Lien Botha)

Running at the Durban Art Gallery until early next year, is Construct: Beyond The Documentary Photograph.

Documentary photography has caught some of the most dramatic moments in South African history. Images have been beamed around the world of some of our best and worst moments. Who could forget Mandela’s triumphant wave from the balcony of the Cape Town City Hall on his release from prison? Or the photo of 12 year-old Hector Pietersen’s body being carried through the bloody streets of Soweto? These photographs have iconic status but it is only recently that the art world has realized the potential of this artform.

Photography has established itself as part of the international art market today and features in the world's main art collections. Global sales at auction hit 75 million euros in 2007, up on 65 million euros the previous year. Global price indexes for photography rose 70% over the last decade, outstripping the 43% rise in prices paid for sculpture and the 15% increase for paintings.

Curated by Capetonians, Heidi Erdmann and Jacob Lebeko, Construct: Beyond The Documentary Photograph shows the works of ten South African artists each of which contributes a unique visual vocabulary. They push the boundaries, are sometimes shocking, sometimes puzzling, sometimes beautiful but always intriguing.

The way in which the photographers use the medium and create works which could not have been made any other way was the primary curatorial focus. An installation that unlocked the potential dialogues between the different works was also imperative.

Artists such as Roger Ballen, Zwelethu Mthethwa and Berni Searle are in constant demand in international circles and it is getting more difficult to view their works in South Africa. This exhibition will provide a fascinating view into contemporary photography in the country. Other artists featured on the show are Zander Blom, Lien Botha, Jacques Coetzer, Abrie Fourie, Nomusa Makhubu, Barbra Wildenboer and Dale Yudelman.

Construct: Beyond The Documentary Photograph runs until January 31 at the Durban Art Gallery which is situated in the City Hall (entrance in Smith Street). More information from Carol Brown on 083 778 1192 or email: