…in this city

© Mack Magagane, from the series … in this city, 2012

… in this city is a progression of Magagane’s previous series Light Hours, which explored urban spaces in the city of Johannesburg from the perspective of inner-city rooftops, seen at night. In his new body of work, an outcome of the 2011/2012 Tierney Fellowship of which he is the current recipient, his encounters take a more intimate perspective, of the momentary aspects of ordinary life in Johannesburg. It is here that Magagane captures the brief encounters, transitory instants, fragments of narratives.

It is in this city that Magagane was born and continues to live. Seeing a man on the corner selling newspapers every morning, the clutter of signage in every possible space, late-night workers and vagabonds alike become the familiar in his everyday life while traversing the city. Magagane juxtaposes this familiarity with the strange, the unfamiliar and mysterious through his photographic imagery.

As Magagane states about this body of work: “I have constantly asked myself whether Johannesburg is like any other city, or a unique city of its own. What really makes Johannesburg? Is it the dark emptiness when night hits? Or the sudden energy when the sun begins to rise? Johannesburg’s day-to-day life can be interpreted in so many ways for me. When I started photographing I looked at familiar things: everyday imagery. But when extracted from their usual surroundings, I discovered these vignettes trigger an image of Johannesburg not usually seen or imagined. This new work seeks to give my viewers the possibility of something beyond the image.”

About Mack Magagane

Mack Magagane’s works explore urban spaces in the city of Johannesburg and provides a glimpse into an almost fairy-tale urban landscape with sort of a theatrical narration, where night does not necessarily translate into darkness. Born in 1990 in Soweto, Magagane joined the Photo Workshop in 2009, completing the Advanced Programme in Photography. He has recently returned from the Photoquai Festival in Paris where his body of work, I’ll be gone soon 2011, was featured. Additionally, Magagane is the 2011/12 Tierney Fellowship recipient at the Market Photo Workshop.

About Jo Ractliffe

Jo Ractliffe was Magagane’s mentor for the duration of the fellowship. She is a photographer, based in Johannesburg. She has exhibited widely, both locally and internationally, and her work is represented in many public collections in the country and abroad. She has also produced limited edition artist’s books, photographic monographs and educational manuals, and essays on her work have been published in a number of books and journals on local contemporary art and photography. For nearly three decades, Jo’s photographs have reflected her preoccupation with the South African landscape and how it figures in the country’s imaginary — particularly in relation to the violent legacies of apartheid. In addition to her creative work, Ractliffe is the Senior Lecturer in Photography at the Wits School of Arts and also teaches at the Market Photo Workshop, where she is an Advisory Board member.

Viewers conversing about the displayed photographs.
Jo Ractliffe addressing the crowd at the opening of the exhibition. She was the mentor during the production of the project.