ARTIST:

Mikhael Subotzky

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Mikhael Subotzky
Playing With Plastic, Toekomsrus, Beaufort West, 2007
Lightjet C-print on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
Image: 106 x 128.7 cm Paper: 126 x 147.7 cm

Like so many fine photographers, Mikhael Subotzky drifted into photography in 2000 as an eighteen-year-old backpacker intending simply to document his travels, and got the bug. Aware of the great tradition of documentary photography, and particularly inspired by David Goldblatt’s In Boksburg (1982), he set out to make a portrait of a small, post-apartheid town that would address marginalization and incarceration, two facets of the violence wracking the country.

Mikhael Subotzky
Diorama, Chris Barnard Museum, Beaufort West, 2008
Lightjet C-print on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
Image: 106 x 128.7 cm Paper: 126 x 147.7 cm

Mikhael Subotzky
Offering To The Ancestors, Kwa Mandlankosi, 2006
Lightjet C-print on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
Image: 106 x 128.7 cm Paper: 126 x 147.7 cm

Beaufort West was his choice, a hardscrabble place located roughly equidistant between Cape Town and Johannesburg.
In the best tradition of the extended photo essay (happily the work has been published as a book), Subotzky gives us a balanced picture of the place and its people, the drunks, prostitutes and prisoners at the bottom of the heap; the grim-faced whites holding onto their privileges at the top.

Mikhael Subotzky
Leon (At The Back Of The Hospital), Beaufort West Hospital, 2006
Lightjet C-print on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
Image: 106 x 128.7 cm Paper: 126 x 147.7 cm

Mikhael Subotzky
'Fuck Me', Toekomsrus, Beaufort West, 2007
Lightjet C-print on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
Image: 128.7 x 106 cm Paper: 147.7 x 126 cm

Most wrenching is a picture of a dazed young girl with the words ‘Fuck Me’ written on her forehead – the idea of a joke, the photographer tells us, of her drunken parents. It’s a depressing reminder that the ghosts of apartheid have yet to be laid to rest.

Mikhael Subotzky
Samuel (Standing), Vaalkoppies (Beaufort West Rubbish Dump), 2006
Lightjet C-print on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
100 x 116 cm

Mikhael Subotzky
Residents, Vaalkoppies (Beaufort West Rubbish Dump), 2006
Lightjet C-print on Fuji Crystal Archive paper
100 x 116 cm

Text by William A Ewing

*Mikhael Subotzky, Beaufort West, with essay by Jonny Steinberg, Chris Boot, London, 2008.

Mikhael Subotzky
Shackles, Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison, 2004
Digital print in pigment inks on cotton rag paper
50 x 70 cm

Mikhael Subotzky
Strip Search, Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison, 2004
Inkjet print
50 x 75 cm

Mikhael Subotzky
Pasvang, Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison, 2004
Digital print in pigment inks on cotton rag paper
56 x 78 cm

Mikhael Subotzky
Cell 33, E2 Section (5) Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison, 2004
Inkjet print
50 x 135 cm

Mikhael Subotzky
Cell 33, E2 Section, Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison, 2004
Digital print in pigment inks on cotton rag paper
55.9 x 134.5 cm

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