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J.M. Coetzee: Photographs from Boyhood

28 November 2017 - 20 January 2018

J.M. Coetzee has a well-established reputation as one of the foremost writers of our times, but his early ambitions to become a photographer are less well known. A collection of images has recently surfaced that gives insight into Coetzee's youthful encounter with photography, when he attempted to capture, as he put it, 'the moment when truth revealed itself'.

The photographic exhibition at the Irma Stern Gallery gives insight into Coetzee's boyhood in Cape Town in the mid-1950s, and shows how photography shaped his creative development. At the age of 16, he acquired a professional camera and set up his own darkroom in which he developed and printed his photographs.
The images show the world of the well-known memoir Boyhood: intimate scenes of life at home, candid snapshots of friends and teachers at school, and an absorbing interest in the ancestral Karoo farm. There are also several remarkable self-portraits.

The photographs are amateur images taken at a young age, but they also show Coetzee's ambitions to master the medium: capturing motion with high shutter speeds, shooting in low light conditions, experimenting with flash, and controlling chemical processes and exposure in the darkroom. Several images are blurry, with tilting horizons, snapped in a documentary fashion, but nevertheless absorbing in their imperfections.

Most of the photographs in this exhibition were reproduced from negatives which had never before been printed. They had been kept in storage by for more than 50 years, when they were given to UWC academic, Hermann Wittenberg who had worked on cinematic and photographic aspects of Coetzee's writing, and had edited Coetzee's film scripts (Two Screenplays, UCT Press, 2014). The photographs on display are digital reproductions of the old black and white film stock, but also include examples of original prints.

Curated by Farzanah Badsha and Hermann Wittenberg.

Walkabout of JM Coetzee photographic exhibition to be given by curator Dr Hermann Wittenberg on Wednesday 17 January at 10.30am.

For more information and hi-res images contact:

Click to enlarge image


Posted: 2017/11/27 (10:57:28 AM)


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