CV Santu Mofokeng

Mofokeng’s deviation from conventional subject matter includes photographic enquiries into spirituality, an interest that has continued throughout his photographic career and produced the extraordinary, evocative series Chasing Shadows. His explorations of landscape invested with spiritual significance form part of a wider enquiry into space and belonging, the political meaning of landscape. His work, in which he ‘reclaims landscape’, investigates the meaning of landscape in relation to ownership, power and memory. In his recent photographs of urban landscapes, Santu Mofokeng again goes beyond political and social commentary into meditations on ‘existential madness — the absurdities of living’. Noting that ‘billboards have been the medium of communication between the rulers and the denizens of townships since the beginning of the township’, in his images their solicitations cruelly highlight the impoverishment of the citizenry they importune. Mofokeng has been the recipient of numerous awards. In 1991 he won the Ernest Cole Scholarship, to study at the International Centre for Photography in New York. The first Mother Jones Award for Africa in 1992. In 1998 he was the recipient of the Künstlerhaus Worpswede Fellowship and three years later of the DAAD Fellowship, both in Germany. In 2009 he was nominated as a Prince Claus Fund Laureate for Visual Arts. Santu Mofokeng’s first international retrospective opened in May 2011 at the Jeu de Paume Paris and subsequently travelled to Kunsthalle Bern in the latter part of 2011 and Bergen Kunsthall and the Wits Art Museum in Johannesburg in 2012. In may 2013 he participated in the 55th International Art Exhibition – La Biennalle di Venezia on the German Pavilion.

Solo Exhibitions 

2012 Chasing Shadows/Santu Mofokeng, thirty years of photographic essays, Bergen Kunsthall, the Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg.

2011 Chasing Shadows/Santu Mofokeng, thirty years of photographic essays, Jeu de Paume, Kunsthalle Bern.

2010 Let’s Talk, Arts on Main, Johannesburg, South Africa

Remaining Past, Minshar Art Institute, Tel Aviv, Israel

Chasing Shadows, Anne Arbor Institute of Humanities, Michigan, USA

2009 Mofokeng survey exhibition, Autograph ABP, London, UK

2008 Santu Mofokeng’s Landscapes, Warren Siebrits, Johannesburg, South Africa

Homeland Security – Johannesburg Art Gallery, South Africa

2007 Invoice Standard Bank Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

2006 Invoice Iziko, South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa

2004 Rethinking Landscape – Centre of Photography D’Ille-De-France, Pontault-Combault, Paris, France

Santu Mofokeng – Gallery Momo, Johannesburg

Santu Mofokeng – David Krut Projects, New York

2003 Chasing Shadows – Memling Museum, Brugge, Belgium

2000 Sad Landscapes – Camouflage Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

Chasing Shadows – Transparencies International, Berlin

1999 Black Photo Album/ Look At Me (photos) – FNAC Montparnasse, France

1998 Lunarscapes – Nederland Foto Instituut, Rotterdam, Holland

Chasing Shadows – Nederland Foto Instituut (NFI), Rotterdam, Holland“

Black Photo Album/ Look At Me (slides and text slides) – NFI, Holland

1997 Chasing Shadows – Gertrude Posel Gallery, Wits University, South Africa

1995 Distorting Mirror/Townships Imagined – Worker´s Library, Johannesburg, South Africa

1994 Rumours / The Bloemhof Portfolio – Market Galleries, Johannesburg, South Africa

1990 Like Shifting Sand – Market Galleries, Johannesburg, South Africa

Select Group Shows:

2014-15 INPUT / OUTPUT – Interface Worpswede, Worpswede die Museen

2014 Public Intimacy: Art and Other Ordinary Acts in South Africa, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco

Apartheid and After, Huis Marseille Museum door Fotografie, Amsterdam

8th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, Berlin

2013-14 Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life, International Centre of Photography (New York), Haus der Kunst (Munich), Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (Milan) and Museum Africa (Johannesburg)

Biographical Forms – Construction and Individual Mythology, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid

Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa, Smithsonian, Washington DC

2013 German Pavilion, 55th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy

African Photography from The Walther Collection Distance and Desire: Encounters with the African Archive The Walter Collection, Ulm, Germany

Umhlaba Wethu This is Our Land: 100 year commemoration of the 1913 Land Act, South African National Gallery, Cape Town; Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg

2012-13 Household Narratives. Beyond the Family Album, Diputación de Huesca, Spain

Poetry and Dream Collection Display, Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom

2011 Figures & Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK

Events of the Self: Portraiture and Social Identity, The Walther Collection, Neu-Ulm, Germany

2010 Darkroom: Photography and New Media in South Africa since 1950, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Virginia, USA

Animism, Extra City/M HKA, Antwerp, Belgium; Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland; Generali Foundation, Vienna, Austria

Apartheid – Widerstand – Freiheit: Südafrikanische Fotografie 1950-2010, Willy-Brandt-Haus, Berlin, Germany

2009 The Symbolic Efficiency of the Frame, T.I.C.A.B. Tirana International Contemporary Art Biannual, Albania

Imaginar_historiar, XVI Jornadas de Estudio de la Imagen, Madrid, Spain

Joburg Art Fair, Warren Siebrits, Johannesburg, South Africa

Urban Reflections, Stills Scotland’s Centre for Photography, Edinburgh, Scotland

2008 Home Lands – Land Marks: Contemporary Art from South Africa, Haunch of Venison, London, UK

Rationalism of Nationalism, Warren Siebrits, Johannesburg, South Africa

2007 52nd Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

Climate Change, Ruth First Fellowship Award Conference, Atlas Studios, Johannesburg, South Africa

Apartheid – The South African Mirror, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, Spain

Uniform: South Africa’s New Clothes, Spanierman Modern, New York, USA

Reality Check: Zeitgenössische Fotokunst aus Südafrika, Neue Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin; Kunstmuseum Bochum, Germany;

Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Germany; Galerie der Stadt Sindelfingen, Germany; Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa

2004-7 Afrika Remix: Contemporary Art of a Continent, Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldof, Germany; Hayward Gallery, London, UK;

Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan; Johannesburg Art Gallery, South Africa; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden

2006 Exorcising Exoticism, International Contemporary Art Exhibition Taipei, Taiwan

1a Trienal de Luanda, Angola

Black, Brown + White, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria

2005-6 Unsettled, Durban Art Gallery, South Africa; Reykjavik Museum of Photography, Iceland; Kristanstads Konsthall, Sweden;

National Museum of Photography, Copenhagen, Denmark

2005 10 years 100 artists: Art in a Democratic South Africa, Bell-Roberts Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa

2004 Post! Contemporary South African Photography, Tama Art University Museum, Tokyo, Japan

Forbidden City International Photography Festival, Beijing, China

New Identities: Contemporary South African Art, Bochum Museum, Germany; Johannesburg Art Gallery, South Africa;

Pretoria Art Museum, South Africa

Ralentir vite, le Plateau/Frac Ile-de-France, Paris

Photography from South Africa, Christine Koenig Galerie, Vienna, Austria

2003 5es Recontres de la Photographie Africaine, Bamako, Mali

6th Sharjah International Biennial, United Arab Emirates

2002 Documenta11, Kassel, Germany

25a Bienal de São Pãolo, Brasil

African Advertising Art, Iwalewa House, University of Bayreuth, Germany

Surviving Apartheid, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France

Dislocation: Installations from South Africa, Circulo de Bellas Artes, Madrid, Spain; Sala Rekalde, Bilbao, Spain

2001 The Short Century, Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa 1945-1994, Museum Vialla Stuck, Munich, Germany;

Haus der Kulturen der Welt/Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany; MoMa/PS1, New York, USA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, USA

Africas: The Artist and the City, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, Spain

2000 Unplugged V, Market Galleries, Johannesburg, South Africa

Man + Space, Gwangju Biennale, South Korea

Translation/Seduction/Displacement, White Box Gallery, New York, USA; Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art, Portland, USA

The Song of the Earth: Biennials in Dialogue, Fridericianum Museum, Kassel, Germany

Positions Attitudes Actions, 4th Photo Biennale Rotterdam, Netherlands

L´etat des Choses, Kunst-werke Berlin, Germany

Rhizomes of Memory, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo, Norway

1999 Africa by Africa: A Photographic View, Barbican Centre, London, UK

Identity and Environment, Ludwig Museum, Budapest, Hungary

A South Photographs Collective Exhibition, Area Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa

1998 Blank__Architecture, Apartheid and After, Nederlands Architecture Institute, Rotterdam, Netherlands

3es Rencontres de la Photographie Africaine, Bamako, Mali

Dreams and Clouds, KulturHuset, Stockholm, Sweden

Democracy´s Images, BildMuseet, Umea University, Sweden; Atlas Studios, Johannesburg, South Africa

1997 Alternating Currents, 2nd Johannesburg Biennale, South Africa

1996 In/Sight: African Photographers, 1940 to the Present, Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA

Images of Africa Festival, Copenhagen, Denmark

Standard Bank National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, South Africa

Colours: Contemporary Art from South Africa, Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt, Berlin, Germany

1995 Transitions: Contemporary Art from South Africa, F-Stop Gallery, Bath, UK

3rd International Photography Biennale Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands

Panoramas of Passage: Chaning Landscapes of South Africa, Standard Bank National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, South Africa

Les assises de l´Afrique, UNESCO, Paris, France

1994 1es Recontres de la Photographie Africaine, Bamako, Mali

This Land is our Land, Bloemfontein, South Africa

1993 FNAC – Mother Jones Award winners 1992, Light Factory, North Carolina, USA

Happy Sad Land, Internationale Fototage Herten, Germany

Montage ´93, International Festival of the Image, Rochester, USA

In Transit, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, USA

1991 AA Vita Art Now, Johannesburg Art Gallery, South Africa

Alltag schwarz–weiss: Fünf Fotografinnen und Fotografen aus Südafrika, Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst, Berlin, Germany

1990 Zabalaza Cultural Festival, London, UK

History Workshop Open Day Festival, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Women´s Exhibition, Malibongwe Conference, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Going Home, Canon Image Centre, Amsterdam, Netherlands

1989 Black Sash Human Rights Exhibition, Market Galleries, Johannesburg, South Africa


2000 Rhizomes of Memory with David Goldblatt and George Hallett – Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo, Norway

1995 South African Photography with Peter Magubane – Institut Für Auslandsbeziehungen Gallery, Bonn, Germany 

1990 Going Home with Paul Weinberg – Canon Image Centre, Amsterdam, Holland


2004 Master Class – Market Gallery Photography Workshop

Resident Artist at University of the Witwatersrand

1989 Total Photography Experience for Beginners” – The Market Gallery Photography Workshop, Johannesburg, S.A.


2001 Compound to Kraal: Salvaging and Refiguring the Duggan-Cronin Collection,
 with Thierry Secretan.

The Workers´ Library and Museum, Newtown, Johannesburg.

1997 Fin de Sieclè, (Naivety in SA documentary Photography – Andrew Tshabangu and Lien Botha.)Nantes Festival, France.

1996 2nd Recontre de la Photographie Africaine, with Marilyn Martin. Bamako, Mali

Awards and fellowships:

2009 Prince Claus Lauriat, Netherlands

2007 Ruth First Fellowship

2001 DAAD Fellowship, Belin, Germany

1999 Contre Jour Residency, Marseille, France

1999 DAAD Fellowship, Worpswede, Germany

1998 Künstlerhaus Worpswede Fellowship, Germany

1997 Short-listed for the FNB Vita Award for the Visual Arts

1992 1st Mother Jones Award for Africa

1991 Ernest Cole Scholarship to study ICP, New York, USA

1990 AA Vita Award Nomination for Like Shifting Sand

Seminars, symposiums and panel discussions:

1999 “The Black Photo Album” Slide presentation – FNAC Montparnasse, Paris, France (March)

1999 “Trajectory of a Streetphotographer:1973-1998” Panel discussion and slide presentation on

Taxonomy of African Art – College Arts Association Convention Centre, Los Angeles, Ca. (Feb)

1998 “3rd Recontre de la Bamako” Symposium”- Bamako, Mali (Dec)

1998 “Democracy´s Images” Symposium – BildMuseet, Umea, Sweden (October)

1998 “Images and Dreams” Symposium – KulturHuset, Stockholm, Sweden (October)

1995 “Transitions: Contemporary Art from South Africa”, Panel Discussion and slide presentation

– Green Park Station Brasserie, Bath, United Kingdom (May)

1993 “The Soweto Project” Lecture and slide presentation, Herten Fotofestival -Herten, Germany (October)

1992 “New Photography in a changing” Guest Lecture, Institute for Advanced Study and Research

in the African Humanities – North Western University, Chicago, U.S.A. (March)

1989 “Photography My Way” Slide presentation, Department of Journalism – Rhodes University, Grahamstown, S.A. (May)

Select photo-essays:

“End of the Line/ Where did the road lead when it lead nowhere (Auschwitz)”


“On the Tracks/ New York Underground”

Artworks in the SAFFCA Collection

Artworks not in the SAFFCA Collection