Andrew Putter: Native Work (Capetown, South Africa)
This new installation comprises 21 black-and-white photographs of contemporary black Capetonians, in ‘tribal’ or ‘traditional’ costume in the genre of the iconic ethnographic photographer Alfred Martin Duggan-Cronin. These are displayed in a grid alongside the same subjects photographed in colour, where the sitters chose what they wished to wear based on how they see themselves.
'Cognizant of the dangers inherent in Duggan-Cronin's colonial, ethnographic approach to making images, Native Work nevertheless recognises an impulse of tenderness running through his project,’ writes Putter in an article about his project published recently in the journal Kronos: Southern African Histories. ’By trusting this impulse in Duggan-Cronin’s photographs, Native Work attempts to provoke another way of reading these images, and to use them in the making of new work motivated by the desire for social solidarity, a desire which emerges as a particular kind of historical possibility in the aftermath of apartheid.’
By exploring his own complex feelings towards an ideologically tainted but aesthetically compelling visual archive, Putter enters the fraught terrain of ethnographic representation to wrestle with himself about his own complicity, as an artist and a white South African, in this troubled visual legacy. Art critic Alex Dodd writes that this new work ‘constitutes one of those rare instances in which it becomes unmistakably clear to the viewer that the primacy of authorial intention has everything to do with the subtle alchemy that determines the meaning and affective power of images. In this case, the immense respect and tenderness that went into the making of the photographs registers visually as a kind of auratic quality of dignity that shines through each and every portrait.’
Graduated high school. Kissed someone. Collected something really stupid. Smoked a cigarette. Got so drunk you passed out. Rode every ride at an amusement park. Gone to a rock concert. Helped someone. Gone fishing. Watched four movies in one night. Gone long periods of time without sleep. Lied to someone. Snorted cocaine. Failed a class. Smoked weed. Dealt drugs. Been in a car accident. Been in a tornado. Been to a funeral. Burned yourself (not on purpose). Ran a marathon. Cried yourself to sleep. Spent over $200 in one day. Flown on a plane. Cheated on someone. Been cheated on. Written a 10 page letter. Gone skiing. Been sailing. Have a best friend. Lost someone you loved. Shoplifted something. Been to jail. Dangerously close to being in jail. S kipped school. Had detention. Got in trouble for something you didn’t do. Stolen books from the library. Gone to a different country. Dropped out of school. Watched the “Harry Potter” movies. Had an online diary. Had a yard sale. Had a lemonade stand. Actually made money at the lemonade stand. Been in a school play. Been fired from a job. Swam with dolphins. Taken a lie detector test. Voted for someone on a reality TV show. Written poetry. Read more than 20 books a year. Gone to Europe. Loved someone you shouldn’t have. Used a coloring book over age 12. Had surgery. Had stitches. T aken a taxi. Seen the Washington Monument. Had more than 5 IM’s/online conversations going at once. Overdosed. Been in a fist fight. Gone surfing in California. Had a hamster/guinea pig. Pet a wild animal. Used a credit card. Did “spirit day” at school. Dyed your hair. Got a tattoo. Got straight A’s. Been on the Honor Roll. Know someone with HIV or AIDS. M ade-out w ith someone. Played on a sports team. Snuck out of the house. Swore at a teacher. Gone laser tagging. Had a romantic relationship. Been on the TV. French braided. Skinny-dipped. Driven a car. Performed in front of an audience. Gone bungee-jumping. Been to Mexico. Crashed a car. Sky dived. Been kissed in the rain. Made an 11:11 wish. Drank alcohol. Forwarded a chain letter. Made a mistake.