|Casting Shadows: Images from a New South Africa |
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University of Michigan Museum of Art
From Library Journal
In this his first book, West (Sch. of Art and Design, Univ. of Michigan) seeks to capture in photographs the marginalized existence of South Africa's people of color. His photographic technique and the quality of the images are exceptional. Yet the volume's conceptual emptiness induces unease a feeling not placated even by the eloquence of essays by Mongane Wally Serote (To Every Birth Its Blood and numerous other works) and Lemuel Johnson (The Devil, the Gargoyle, and the Buffoon) or Leslie King-Hammond's revealing interview with West. For all their beauty and conviction, these writings mainly editorialize and praise a work of genius that the remaining pages of the volume do not reveal. West's subjects appear well prepared for the camera, their shaded faces always contemplative. That is the look of the photographer's South Africa, not of South Africa itself, and the metaphor of the shadow dissipates in the real shadow of the book's intellectual gimmickry. Recommended only for the largest metropolitan libraries. Edward K. Owusu-Ansah, CUNY Coll. of Staten Island Lib., NY
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
By exploiting contrast and by printing, it seems, on textured paper, West achieves in color a visual softness. That is highly appropriate to his stated concern with shadows in these pictures of one, two, or three black South Africans set in relief by the fields of stark, powdery hues and of heavy darkness and light afforded by the sunlit streets and the buildings of the black projects of the Eastern Cape. Himself a son of the black projects of New York, West looks beyond his subjects' poverty to... read more
Edward West uses the metaphorical power of shadow to foreground the shifting visibility of South Africa's black population post apartheid. From 1997 to 1999, he traveled in South Africa to photograph the country's townships, squatter camps, and locations during this historic time of transition. In focusing on the private moments of these newly empowered people within their own communities, West has created a complex, visually compelling study of the ways in which identity is inextricably linked to environment. Utilizing the medium of photography in large scale color Giclee prints, West has developed a rich visual language built on the shadow metaphor that at once moves us and grounds us. modern times.