Mikhael Subotzky

Mikhael Subotzky was born in Cape Town in 1981.

He lives and works in Johannesburg. During his studies, he developed a photo project with prisoners in which he became a “visual activist”. This book Beaufort West is showing his work inside and outside of a prison located on a traffic circle in the middle of the town, revealing social disparities. He has also created, in collaboration with Patrick Waterhouse, a coherent body of work focused around an apartment building in Ponte City in Johannesburg, thanks to the intense personal participation of the artist with the building’s inhabitants. Living in the building, he successively photographed his neighbors in the elevator, on the landing outside their door, and in their homes, before taking photos of Johannesburg from their windows.

Recently, upon the occasion of a traveling exhibition in South Africa (Standard Bank Young Artist Award), Subotzky published Retinal Shift, a reflection on his work as a photographer and the very acts of seeing and being seen which he links with the evolution of the South African society. His no-concessions vision of the world explores the various narrative modes of humanist photography.

For many years, the Val-de-Marne has been involved in the struggle against apartheid. Jacqueline Derens, an anti-apartheid activist since 1975 participated, in Arcueil with Marcel Trigon, in the 1986 creation of the association “Rencontre Nationale Contre l’Apartheid” (the National Meeting Against Apartheid). The Val-de- Marne conserves a large collection of archives from this association and films on Nelson Mandela’s visit to France. The International Relations Service of the department has maintained a cooperation agreement with the city of Johannesbug since 1999, following exchanges begun in 1996 as part of the emerging society of the new South Africa. Both of these residencies, as well as the focus upon the South African video scene which the MAC/VAL is programming, are part of the cultural policies of the department of the Val-de-Marne – a region that has maintained a privileged relationship with South Africa for decades.

Initiative organized within the framework of the Seasons South Africa / France.