At the halfway point along South Africa’s great highway-the N1, running from Cape Town to Johannesburg-lies the small town of Beaufort West. With a prison in the middle of town on an island in the highway, it’s a surreal road stop that offers everything a traveler might want: food, gas, a place to stay, an hour of sex. Its vivid characters and poignant social landscapes are the subject of Mikhael Subotzky’s first photobook. Exquisitely designed and produced on a large portfolio scale, “Beaufort West “features thirty-six plates and an introduction by leading South African writer Jonny Steinberg. The book is both an important social document and the visual manifesto of the best of the new wave of South African art photographers.
“Beaufort West “will be exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, opening on September 10, 2008. It is Mikhael Subotzky’s first US solo exhibition.
Mikhael Subotzky, born in Cape Town in 1981, began photographing the South African prison system while he was a student at the University of Cape Town. In his short career since then, he has come to be regarded as the most exciting photographer to emerge from South Africa and has won several of the world’s major photography awards, including an ICP Infinity Award for Young Photographer of the Year in 2008. His photographs are collected by New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the National Gallery of South Africa, and, at just twenty-five, he is the youngest member of the Magnum Photos cooperative.
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