Fred Ritchin (associate professor of photography and communications at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and a new media consultant to news and photo organizations) reviews the exhibition “Intersections Intersected: The Photography of David Goldblatt,” currently on view at New York’s New Museum through October 1.
Highlights from the review:
… Recently, as [Goldblatt who shot most of his photographs during Apartheid in black and white] employs color and large prints and explores newer digital printing processes, his more oblique and nuanced photographs seem the result of patiently holding an enormous magnifying glass, distancing the viewer so as to better see the competing details. Rather than light privileging a subject selectively, these images strive for a non-hierarchical revealing of all nearly at once so as to lead the viewer to search for the irony in the less obvious particulars. Hung unceremoniously on clips, they pivot less on our ability to read people’s expressions than on our sensitivity, often aided by his small texts, to subtle variations in ground-level iconography …
… In a globalized world, it is even more difficult to remember that photography is not a universal language. The photograph is never a simple record of what is there, but represents a process of intuiting meaning without relying on pre-existing templates. In Goldblatt’s newer work, the photographer’s sensibility is more acute but also more obscured, so that the unsuspecting reader might feel that the camera, mechanically, has done the great majority of the work. This would be both an error and praise for a man who has, with great discipline and rare modesty, spent nearly half a century tenaciously pursuing, as he put it, photography “as a political inquiry, an interest in real things.”