Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Feature: Park Station

With just under two weeks left of Paul Weinberg’s exhibition - Here and There - the Kalk Bay Modern has decided to use this blog space to showcase and further explore a few choice images from the show.
The exhibition was divided up into four parts, In Search of the San, Travelling Light, Moving Spirit and Once Were Warriors, three of which are also the titles of Paul’s books.  Both the books and the photographic prints are available for purchase at the gallery. We hope that by focussing on certain key images from each section, we will be able to provide information that is useful and inspiring both to those who collect and invest in quality South African art as well as those for whom it is simply a passion. 
Today’s image is from Travelling Light, a play on words concerning both the physics of photography and the conditions necessary to building up a body of work spanning 25 years.     

Park Station, (Joburg, early 1980’s) is a poignant image of a two white children peering out of a train window.  The strong single light-source and smoke  from the train create an atmosphere that is both intense and surreal, capturing the strange magic of travel that children in particular have not yet learned to take for granted.
 An understanding of the time and place of its capture however, gives this image a sombre quality. These children have no doubt recently stepped off a ‘Whites Only’ platform.  The freedom that they do not even know they have is not granted to everyone. This journey, and every aspect of their lives, will happen within a net of bias and prejudice that, in all likelihood, they will never be taught to question.
In a show of technical mastery, the composition is arranged so that the gaze of each child, following the diagonals of the train, slides off the image borders into far distances that the viewer is not privy to. The child facing us meets our gaze in a time-old tradition that cannot ever lose its potency.  The meeting of two pairs of eyes, the mutual evaluation, the impossibility of knowing the other, yet the sense of human connection, these elements all combine to create a lingering, haunting image.

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