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Some Afrikaners Photographed by David Goldblatt Book

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David Goldblatt began working on Some Afrikaners Photographed in 1963. Instead of working at his father's clothing store, he sold the shop and became a full-time photographer. During this time, the ruling Afrikaner National Party was firming its grip on South Africa in the face of black resistance. Many party leaders and members had supported the Nazis just years earlier during World War II.

However, Goldblatt was drawn not to the events of the time. He was instead drawn to “the quiet and commonplace where nothing ‘happened’ and yet all was contained and immanent.” Capturing these photos, Goldblatt explored his ambivalence toward the Afrikaners he knew from his father’s store. Most, he guessed, were National Party voters, yet he experienced them as “austere, upright, unaffected people of rare generosity of spirit and earthy humor.” Their potency and contradictions moved and disturbed him while their influence pervaded his life.

Some Afrikaners Photographed includes an essay by South African writer Antjie Krog. She writes: “Three kinds of Afrikaners look out at us from these photographs of which the poor Afrikaner is the most haunting—the simple one who, by the sweat of his brow, eats his bread in isolation.” Art critic Ivor Powell charts the outraged reaction of the Afrikaner media towards photos that showed rural Afrikaners at a time when the Afrikaner elite was trying to establish itself on the international stage, as well as his own reaction to the original book: “It was all but incandescent with tension and revelation, with a sense of souls being held up to scrutiny, of skins being peeled away.”

The author

David Goldblatt (1930 – 2018) was a South African photographer renowned for his portrayal of South Africa during the period of apartheid. After apartheid ended, he focused his lens on South Africa's landscapes. 

Hardcover, 10.5 x 11.2 inches, 204 pages