An insight into Santu Mofokeng’s photographic work


Contemporary Art

Santu Mofokeng: A Silent Solitude. An outstanding solo exhibition on display at Modena’s Foro Boario until May 8, 2016

Fondazione Fotografia Modena – a formative exhibition centre devoted to contemporary art – has established this year an International Photography Award. Identity was the first focus topic, and the recipient of the award was indeed South African artist Santu Mofokeng, one of the most acclaimed photographer in his native land. He was chosen because he “has made his reserve a way of life; he does not belong to any system and this freedom has enabled him to create stunning images. His creativity is totally open-ended, it does not focus on a specific subject but revolves around the theme of establishing an identity. The variety of subjects and the ability to approach them clear-sightedly and with rational starkness distinguish his oeuvre. […] Santu Mofokeng has been able to develop a strong career and an uncompromising body of work in photography, documenting South African reality from the Apartheid period to the present time; the question of black identity and integration between communities has always been crucial to his work”.

Born in Johannesburg in 1956, Santu Mofokeng started out his career as a street photographer. After becoming a photojournalist, he joined the Afrapix Collective in the ’80s, working under the alias ‘Mofokeng’ and mainly documenting South Africa’s struggle against apartheid. Throughout his career he focused his work on a 50-years timeframe which covered the changes that affected South Africa from the apartheid period up until now. His strength? Being able to identify a spiritual dimension in everyday life, to capture it in his shots and gift it to his public.

And this photographic investigation on spirituality and transcendent realities has been a constant factor throughout his career, which has also resulted in another extraordinary series titled ‘Chasing Shadows’. Deep explorations of a landscape soaked in new meanings, real and imaginary environments, meaningless experiences, instances and surfaces, stuck in time and in the long memory of a photographic film.