The Studio Museum exhibition is in many ways a perfect foil for the Shainman gallery show. It covers three photographic projects that focus on interior scenes, while the more recent work was all taken outside - there is no overlap of images on display, so the combination of the two shows provides a decently comprehensive view of Mthethwa's career (except for the excellent but missing Sugar Cane series). At the simplest level, the pictures in this show can be thought of as a contemporary form of social documentary photography. Following in the footsteps of Riis, Evans, Lange and others, Mthethwa has made images of the domestic lives of migrant workers, capturing the unexpected personalization of their single room spaces. He has also documented the aftermath of natural disaster, homes ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans or the wild fires of Cape Town, making the destruction interchangeable and universal.
Rating: ** (two stars) VERY GOOD (rating system described here)
- Reviews: NY Times (here), New Yorker (here), Village Voice (here, scroll down)
- Interview with Larissa Leclair (here)
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