"black Skin and Blood": Documentary Photography and Santu Mofokeng's Critique of the Visualization of Apartheid South Africa

This paper responds to Patricia Hayes's insightful readings of Santu Mofokeng's photographic work in South Africa. The paper operates from the premise that photography is a technology of visualization that both draws on and establishes a visual economy through which events and issues are materialized in particular ways. This allows the paper to pose questions and develop understandings about Mofokeng's work in terms of the way certain factors coalesced to enable a particular representation of black South Africans in the global image economy. Central to this is the role of assumptions about exposure and visibility in relation to violence, assumptions that Mofokeng's work, as a critique of conventional documentary work, explicitly contests. In exploring the invisibility of everyday life, Mofokeng expands notions of documentary photography and photojournalism. This paper demonstrates this point by connecting Mofokeng's work to a contemporary controversy in European photojournalism to highlight how a more complex understanding of documentary photography is necessary.