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South Africa –Mack Magagane


Mack Magagane, born in Soweto, South Africa, in 1990, became interested in art and architectural drawing at an early age. After graduating from school in 2008, he enrolled at the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg, one of Africa’s leading photography schools, where he is currently studying.

Magagane’s work often contains surreal elements. This is something particularly obvious in his series Light Hours, depicting Johannesburg by night as a deserted city where light is the only presence. I’ll Be Gone Soon addresses the issue of teenage suicide – a situation that might seem surprising in a country like South Africa, that has seen such intense struggles for freedom and democracy.

Reminiscent of a photonovel without words, the series unfolds the last moments of a young man in deep unhappiness psychological pain, from his suicide note to the fatal jump.
This genre of docufiction reflects Magagane’s undeniable inclination towards art photography within both his local context and contemporary culture. His aesthetic approach is nurtured by new media, science fiction and horror movies. Much aware of his country’s photographic heritage, he regards images as a testimony to history; as memories through which the tragedy of apartheid – and the resistance it spawned – live on to this day. He readily acknowledges pioneering South African photographers Bob Gosani, Ernest Cole and David Goldblatt who epitomise this approach. Other artists that inspire him include Israeli Nadav Kander and American Gregory Crewdson, with whom he shares an interest for the play of light and surrealist compositions in which is deployed the intensity of the narrative. Although he is still an emerging photographer, Magagane skilfully succeeds in combining documentary and art.

Christine Eyene, curator

Text from the catalogue-book “Photoquai”, co-edited by Musée du Quai Branly- Actes-Sud”

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