David Goldblatt: The Transported of Kwandebele - a South African Odyssey

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After On the Mines, The Transported of KwaNdebele is the second of David Goldblatt's books re-designed and expanded by the artist for Steidl Publishers. Dating originally from 1989, it talks about the workers of an apartheid tribal homeland for blacks, KwaNdebele, which has no industry, very few opportunities for jobs, and is a long way from the nearest industrial - commercial activity of white-controlled Pretoria. Workers from KwaNdebele catch buses in the very early morning, some as early as 2:45 am, in order to be at their workplaces in Pretoria by 7:00. At the end of the day they repeat the journey in the other direction, to get home at between 8 and 10 pm. Goldblatt takes us on their bone-jarring journeys through the night, which is a metaphor for their arduous struggle toward freedom itself. In photographs devoid of sentimentality and artifice, the grim determination of these people to survive and overcome emerges in almost heroic terms. Brenda Goldblatt, filmmaker and writer, interviewed some of the bus-riding workers who endured not only these journeys but a civil war precipitated by the apartheid governments attempt to foist a kind of independence on KwaNdebele; a condition which would have made the workers foreigners in the land of their birth, South Africa, and thus deprived them of their limited right to work there. Interviews with contemporary (2012) bus-riders fill out the account. Phillip van Niekerk, former editor of the Mail & Guardian, provides an essay on KwaNdebele, its place in the logic of grand apartheid and its half-life in post-apartheid South Africa. David Goldblatt is a definitive photographer of his generation, esteemed for his dispassionate depiction of life in South Africa over a period of more than fifty years. Born in Randfontein in 1930, Goldblatt worked in his father's menswear business until 1963 when he took up photography full time. Goldblatt's work concerns above all human values and is a unique document of life during and after apartheid. His photographs are held in major international collections, and his solo exhibitions include those at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1998, and the Fondation Henri Cartier- Bresson in Paris in 2011. In 1989 Goldblatt founded the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg to teach visual literacy and photography especially to those disadvantaged by apartheid.