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Stevedore, Durban
David Goldblatt
Artwork 1953
David Goldblatt's black-and-white photograph 'Stevedore, Durban' shows a man to the right of the frame, holding someone's hand.
Artwork: David Goldblatt, Stevedore, Durban (1953). Silver gelatin print on fibre-based paper. 30 x 40 cm. Courtesy of Michael Stevenson.
Artist David Goldblatt Title Stevedore, Durban Date 1953 Materials Silver gelatin print on fibre-based paper Dimensions 30 x 40 cm Credit Courtesy of Michael Stevenson

This photograph is included in Fifty-one Years, 2001, and On Common Ground, 2018.

“I was drawn,” the late photographer David Goldblatt wrote, “not to the events of the time but to the quiet and commonplace where nothing ‘happened’ and yet all was contained and immanent.” A preeminent chronicler of South African life under apartheid and after, Goldblatt bore witness to how this life is written on the land, in its structures or their absence. Unconcerned with documenting significant historic moments, his photographs stand outside the events of the time and yet are eloquent of them. Through Goldblatt’s lens, the prosaic reveals a telling poignancy. Even in those images that appear benign, much is latent in them – histories and politics, desires and dread. His photographs are quietly critical reflections on the values and conditions that have shaped the country; those structures both ideological and tangible. Among his most notable photobooks are On the Mines (1973), Some Afrikaners Photographed (1975), In Boksburg (1982), The Structure of Things Then (1998), and Particulars (2003).