Santu Mofokeng: The Black Photo Album / Look at Me: 1890-1950

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This book is a reproduction of an artwork, bearing the same title, by Santu Mofokeng. The work, which is as much a research project as it is a work of art, is comprised of private photographs collected, scanned, and retouched over a number of years by the artist. Each of the original images were commissioned by urban black working and middle-class families in South Africa between 1890 and 1950, a time when the government was entrenching its infamous policies towards those designated as natives. Painterly in style, the images evoke the artifices of Victorian photography and reveal something about how the people captured within the frame imagined themselves, asking meditative questions on the meaning of African imagery: Who were these people?, What were their aspirations?, and Are these images evidence of mental colonization or did they serve to challenge prevailing images of The African in the western world? In this work Mofokeng thus analyses the sensibilities, aspirations and self-image of the urban black population in South Africa and its desire for representation and social recognition in times of colonial rule and suppression. This book contains the complete sequence of slides with reproduced photographs and Mofokeng's own texts. The Black Photo Album / Look at Me: 1890-1950 also features selections from Mofokeng's field notes and the original, unretouched photographs, published for the first time.