Ponte City documents the iconic building located near Johannesburg's former central business district. The series has previously been shown at the Photographers' Gallery in London, New York's International Center of Photography (ICP), Le Bal in Paris and Art Basel Unlimited. In 2015, Subotzky and Waterhouse received the Deutsche Borse Photography Prize for the project.
Described by Time Magazine as an 'apartheid-era high rise mired in myth', Ponte was originally intended as luxury condos, but fell into disrepair toward the end of apartheid when affluent people began moving out of the inner city en masse. Following that exodus, in the 1990s the building became a magnet for migrants from South Africa's rural areas and immigrants from the rest of the continent. In 2007, following years of neglect, a group of developers evicted half of the building's tenants and began to gut the apartments.
It was around this time that Subotzky and Waterhouse began visiting Ponte in an effort to meet the remaining tenants and photograph life in the half-occupied block. The pair regularly returned to the building, gathering an extensive archive of documents and photographs which have been published and exhibited in layered sequences that reflect the overlapping clouds of narrative and myth that surround the building and have made it a crucible of Johannesburg's self-imagination during its almost 50-year lifespan at the centre of the city.
This online viewing room, features a newly assembled 13-foot lightbox showing Ponte from the inside core, which complements the previous lightbox typologies of the building's televisions, windows and doors. Ponte City's genesis as a photobook is also featured as a grouping of book dummies created over the course of the six-year project. The out-of-print first edition was published by Steidl in 2014 and will be followed by a revised second edition, prepared ahead of a planned exhibition of the Ponte City Archive at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). The institution acquired this complete archive of found documents and exhibition prints in 2018 and the exhibition, initially set for 2020, remains to be re-programmed after Covid-related disruptions.
Press release courtesy Goodman Gallery.