Black Box Publishing is pleased to announce its participation in Photo London Digital where we will be presenting South African photographer Alastair Whitton’s photo narrative series ‘A Foreign Land’ from 7-18 October 2020.
Essentially a portrait of Cape Town, a city in flux, this body of work considers, what Alastair Whitton refers to as, ‘the mechanisms of memory and the mapping of geographies’. Through the lens he explores ‘the architecture of time and the poetics and politics of place’. His photographs celebrate the seemingly commonplace and are in effect ‘monuments to the dislocated and overlooked’.
“My first reaction to these photographs was to shiver. Two sentences came to mind, by I know not whom – ‘Africa is a cold country where the sun always shines’ and another – ‘The touch of the devil is as cold as ice’.” Marlene Dumas, Amsterdam.
“Conceived as anthropological ‘field notes’ situated within Cape Town, Whitton’s project is unreservedly about location. And yet, despite this affirmation of place, the images remain untethered, as though caught always between places, or moments, as ghostings of some other indefinable place and time.” Ashraf Jamal, Cape Town.
This is not a love song. This is not that repeat-cycle dream of Cape Town as transnational refuelling station, natural oasis, coastal escape, fantasy land of leisure and pleasure (lubricated, off set, by real estate muscle and strategic policing). Table Mountain is nowhere to be seen. The photographer has turned his back on the city’s insouciant iconicity in search of other pictures, different frames. There is no reversion to the easy reproducibility of familiar scenes and settings. And yet familiarity and reproduction do play a mysterious part in this unsettling sequence of peri-urban vistas.
To date Whitton has presented solo exhibitions in Paris, Cape Town and Johannesburg. His work has also been featured in curated group exhibitions at notable museums and institutions in South Africa and abroad. Highlights have included Fotomuseum, Antwerp; Pratt Institute, New York; Museo Carlo Bilotti, Rome; Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice; The Center for Book Arts, New York; Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon; ; Musée National du Mali, Bamako and IZIKO South African National Gallery, Cape Town.
His work is represented in the collections of the University of South Africa, Durban Art Museum, Jack Ginsberg / Ampersand Foundation, National Museum of Mali and the Aperture Foundation Library Collection in New York.