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Drawn exclusively from the collection, Santu Mofokeng: A Metaphorical Biography features selections from Mofokeng’s powerful black-and-white photographic essays exploring landscape and social identity. A renowned photographer, Mofokeng’s nuanced, slowed-down work resists the sensational, providing an intimate vision of South African communities, while his evocative landscapes consider memories of historical trauma.
As a young freelance photographer, Mofokeng (b. 1956, Johannesburg) began to create a “metaphorical biography” of his life, “making photographs of things I ordinarily do or see.” In the mid-1980s, at the height of the apartheid crisis, he pursued long-form photographic studies of family life and religious rituals. Mofokeng’s first sustained project, Train Church (1986), documents the spontaneous singing and improvised congregation of religious services aboard the long train commute black South Africans endured between Johannesburg and the township of Soweto. Train Church captures the sudden transformation of a public space with the catharsis of spiritual expression.
Santu Mofokeng was born in Johannesburg, where he currently lives and works. A freelance photojournalist and member of the Afrapix Collective in the 1980s, Mofokeng won the Ernest Cole Scholarship to study at the International Center of Photography in 1991.