Another White Male Photographer Can only Mean one Thing: Guy Tillim at Michael Stevenson
Thursday, May 04, 2006
We went to the opening of Guy's new show 'Petros Village' at Michael Stevenson (where they were charging something ridiculous like R10 for wine) the other night and couldn't help feeling a little disapointed, as well as coming over with a rather nasty sense of dejavu - because another white photographer shown at Michael Stevenson can only mean one thing: more unhappy/exotic/starving/noble/genorous-of-spirit black people.
Guy Tillim is great in a war - really great. In fact he's arguably one of the best documentary photographers around. When he's sent to village full of generous not-quite-starving Africans he's less exciting though; and portrait after portrait of happy rural Africans gets a little tiresome in the same way, really, as portrait after portrait of happy judicial Africans did in Pieter Hugo's exhibition.
That's not to say that there are no interesting works in the show. Guy's goats, for example are beautiful, as are the puppies - and it is with this exquisitely composed work that his new found direction as the "Wolfgang Tillmans of the South African artworld" becomes apparent. And the 'Petros Vilage' coffee table book (retailing at almost R400) is also rather nice, however, I'm just not sue if these kind of images really work in a gallery space. If, however good the photographs may be, they constitute a succesful exhibition.
In essence, I think it might be time to leave the natives alone for a while and go make some good art.
(the image comes off the Micheal Stevenson Contemporary website)