A survey of the Market Photo Workshop (MPW), a renowned photography and visual literacy training institution based in Johannesburg and founded by the late David Goldblatt in 1989.
Not the Usual Suspectsis a celebration of the Market Photo Workshop (MPW) and its contribution to photography and visual histories in the region since its inception. The exhibition selectively features an intergenerational group of practitioners who have contributed to the institution’s vibrancy and reputation since its inception. It showcases more than 30 artists broadly termed as alumni - learners, trainers, mentors, project managers and ‘staff’ of the MPW over the nearly 30 years. Many of these photographers remain invisible in the public histories of the MPW, some do not even produce images any longer.
Grappling with the personal, the professional, and the public; the photographers represented in the exhibition delve into autobiography, the self and (self) image; representing others and the boundaries with the “other”; kinship and belonging; daily social practices; livelihoods; positionality and class; inequality and justice; trauma; and the varying contested notions of home, community and nation. Sometimes, the (often interchangeable) practitioners and ‘subjects’ stretch the technology, as they map developments in and of the medium and mess with its modes, processes and conventions.
In addition to reflecting on the uses and roles of photography within our challenging and unequal societies, this collaborative project also brings together the histories and archives of the MPW in dialogue with the private archives and memories of “alumni”.
Not the Usual Suspectsbroadens the MPW archive which is central and critical to any 21st century discourse in the region about photography and visual cultures, (access to) education, and erasures in institutional-public archives and histories.