Three exhibitions to see in New York and London this weekend
David Goldblatt, Portrait photographer and client, Braamfontein (3_1538, 3_1539), 1955. Courtesy of Goodman Gallery
Peter Hujar: Cruising Utopia at Pace Gallery in New York explores more than anything the photographers unparalleled ability to depict our contradictory desires and impulses, mapping pleasures incredible proximity to pain, and vice versa. This is seen most famously in visceral works like Jay and Fernando (Two Men in Leather Kissing) (around 1966) and Orgasmic Man (1969), in which the agonizing contortions of a young mans face are revealed by the title to be stemming not from anguish but from sexual climax. The show also hosts shots of young men in the piers of New Yorks pre-gentrified westsides—mostly shot in the brief window of time post-Stonewall and pre-AIDS—as well as wonderfully extravagant nightclub performers. A suite of portraits of other minds and artists that ran in Hujars circle, including Paul Thek, David Wojnarowicz, Greer Lankton, Susan Sontag and Amiri Baraka, is also present; most notable among them is an image of Fran Lebowitz in her early 20s, looking at the camera as she lays in bed before a patterned wallpaper so of-its-era that it recalls the carpet patterns of the Overlook Hotel.
David Goldblatt was one of South Africa's leading documentarians of the apartheid era, capturing in stark detail life on both sides of the racial divide and the horror of life under oppression for the countrys black population. A major solo show, David Goldblatt: Johannesburg 1948-2018, at Londons Goodman Gallery (until 15 September) includes images of Johannesburg taken between 1948 and 2018, spanning Goldblatts life in the capital. The photographers chronicle of the South African city reflects a history riven by social and racial inequality but Goldblatt captures the humanity of Soweto—a township to the south west created in the 1930s to keep blacks away from white suburbs—in a 1972 photographic essay. Under Goldblatts gaze, its inhabitants are seen at sports and religious events, gathering at home and playing outside. The exhibition also throws light on the Market Photography Workshop in Johannesburg, the further education project in visual literacy founded by Goldblatt in 1989 which helped and empowered black students disadvantaged by apartheid.