Architecture, Documentary, Exhibitions

David Lurie’s exploration of Cape Town’s streets comes to London

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"The People Shall Share in the Country's Wealth", Khayelitsha, from the series Writing The City © David Lurie, courtesy Sulger-Buel Lovell

David Lurie's Cape Town-based project Writing the City, a documentary series focusing on the effects of urbanization, social marginalization and economic disparities in his native South Africa, is about to go on show in a solo exhibition in London.

Lurie captures Cape Town’s surfaces, textures and artistic ‘interventions’, asking what these tell us about the inclusion and exclusion of different communities in the life and prosperity of the city.

Having toured Johannesburg and Cape Town, including the South African Jewish Museum earlier this year, Lurie’s exhibition opens at the Sulger-Buel Lovell gallery in London’s South Bank.

David Lurie, born 1951 in South Africa, studied economics, politics and philosophy and taught philosophy at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. In London, Lurie undertook research in the Department of International Relations at the London School of Economics, co-edited Millenium, Journal of International Studies and worked as a consultant-economist.

His scholarship has continued to influence his photographic content; focusing on the effects of urbanization, social marginalization and economic disparities in Africa.

Lurie says: “In Writing the City, I turn my attention to ‘surfaces’, the plethora of placards, banners, billboards, posters, words and images, which inform and direct us, regulate our movements, mould our desires, and sometimes surprise and disturb us, to further explore these issues.

“All cities have been, for a very long time, full of public texts: all the signs of capital and commerce – signage, advertisements, indications of private property, and elements of systems of public ordering and regulation – street names, numbering of buildings, signs with prohibitions and directions for circulation.

“The public space of cities is constituted in important ways by these public texts: reading and decoding them, much of which is so naturalised as to be completely unconscious, is part of what it means to inhabit a city.”

Professor Daniel Herwitz, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, US, writes in David Lurie’s Photographic Ethics, 2016: “Lurie’s work is about the relationship between seeing and the moral imagination.

“His questions are about who speaks, how far their voices go in this city, about who bothers to look, and what they see when they do, about the omnipresent invisible.”

James Sey, Social Theorist at University of Johannesburg, writes in The City as a Discourse About Art: “Lurie’s seductively confrontational photographs tell the very necessary other story, of all the forgotten, neglected surfaces of Cape Town’s urban ‘non-places’.”

“His pictures make them grow in clarity and volume, and profundity. They take on the complex visual character of Cape Town’s Undercity, the dark mirror of the tourist brochures.”

“Clearly, Cape Town, like most South African cities, remains deeply divided; it fails the majority of its citizens,” Lurie says. “Who are these cities being built for? How will the excluded survive? What strategies will they choose? Cape Town, for all its beauty and energy, is a city in crisis: a failed city that somehow works,” Lurie says.

Lurie’s work is represented in several public and private collections, including Iziko National Gallery, Cape Town, Side Gallery, Newcastle, 
Bradford Museums & Galleries, 
Getty Centre for Arts & Humanities, Los Angeles Black Gallery, Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley California and the
 Essl Museum, Austria.

Writing the City is on show at the Sulger-Buel Lovell gallery in London’s South Bank from November 17th until 16th December.

More information here.

APRIL 2017 ISSUE:

Scratching the Surface: Daisuke Yokota and Thomas Mailaender take photography beyond the frame

It’s available to order online now.

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