Commotion, Johannesburg-Soweto Line

  • 1986
  • Santu Mofokeng
  • Black and white photograph
  • 38 x 58 cm

Completed over the course of a month in 1986, Train Church was his first publication and became legendary. The subject is the train that connects the township of Soweto with Johannesburg, a tiring and dangerous journey which black communities, kept far from their places of work, were subjected to under the laws of apartheid. Mornings and evenings, this journey became a moment of collective grace. Sermons and gospels united residents from different neighborhoods to the sounds of hands slapping walls and feet stomping floors. The photographer co-exists with his subjects in the train car, and the constricted space entails the use of a wide-angle lens and full, saturated composition. Rendered in raw black and white, Mofokeng’s images convey intense spiritual feeling.

© Adagp, Paris, 2017


Santu Mofokeng

Santu Mofokeng began his career as an assistant in a photographic laboratory, he is today a recognized figure in the international photographic landscape.

First a street photographer, in 1985 he joined the Afrapix collective (1982-1991), a group of around forty people, blacks and whites, professionals and amateurs, who oppose the apartheid regime with a " wrestling photography ". Above clichés and reports, it is through his paper series that Mofokeng will develop an art that has become a landmark in South Africa's history.

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