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David Goldblatt : Ex Offenders at the Scene of Crime


The origins of this book lie in David Goldblatt‘s simple observation that many of his fellow South Africans, regardless of their race and class, are the victims of often violent crime. “I have asked myself,” says Goldblatt, “not least in the fear and fury of holdups with knives and guns, who are you? Are you monsters? Are you ‘ordinary’ people—if there are such? How did you come to do this? What are your lives?”

And so began in 2008 Ex Offenders at the Scene of Crime for which Goldblatt photographed criminal offenders and alleged offenders at the place that was probably life-changing for them and their victims: the scene of the crime or arrest. Each portrait is accompanied by the subject’s written story in his or her own words, for many a cathartic experience and the first opportunity to recount events without being judged. To ensure the integrity of his undertaking, Goldblatt paid each of his subjects 800 rand for permission to photograph and interview them, and any profit from the project will be donated to the rehabilitation of offenders. Ex Offenders at the Scene of Crime also features Goldblatt’s portraits and interviews of subjects in England, made in collaboration with the community arts project Multistory.

I hope this book brings a greater understanding of the lives of the people we call ‘criminal’. Understanding is not condoning or forgiving. But until we try to understand more, the cycle of crime and imprisonment will just keep turning. —Erwin James

David Goldblatt (1930–2018) was a South African photographer renowned for documenting his homeland during and after apartheid. He created landmark visual essays that explored diverse subjects united by his primary concern: the values with which South Africans shaped their world and their expression in its landscapes. Widely exhibited and collected by museums including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Goldblatt published over 20 books and won the HCB and Hasselblad Awards. Goldblatt’s books with Steidl include On the Mines (2012), The Transported of KwaNdebele (2013) Structures of Dominion and Democracy (2018) and Some Afrikaners Photographed (2020).


David Goldblatt: Ex Offenders at the Scene of Crime

Text: Brenda Goldblatt

Essay: Erwin James

Published by Steidl

Book Design: David Goldblatt, Christelle Troskie, Holger Feroudj, Gerhard Steidl

Copy-editing: Monte Packham

240 pages; 109 images

19 x 13 in. / 26 x 28 cm

Black and white

Hardback / Clothbound

US$ 65.00 / € 58.00

ISBN 978-3-95829-551-3

Release Date USA: June 2020





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