Untitled from Sugar Cane Series, 2003
Fujicolor Crystal Archive print, Diasec mounted. 25 x 33 1/2 in. (63.5 x 85.1 cm). Signed in ink on a label accompanying the work. Number 1 from an edition of 3.
PROVENANCE Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
LITERATURE Aperture, Zwelethu Mthethwa, p. 42
Zwelethu Mthethwa's photographs document the everyday lives of individuals living in post-apartheid South Africa from a local's perspective. Here, Mthethwa photographs workers harvesting sugar cane, an industry that has been the source of as much wealth as conflict in Africa. While working within the context of social documentary photography, Mthethwa's images are more nuanced and calculated, incorporating elements from his background in fine art—namely, the figure's frontal, central pose—to create images that balance the documentary with the artistic. Accordingly, the use of color, traditionally at odds with documentary photography in Africa, is nonetheless an essential aspect of his work as it injects the images with the subjects' vitality and vibrancy whilst attempting to dispel the generalized notions of widespread poverty throughout the region.