Billed as a showcase of “unique visual vocabularies of four photographers working with and through the medium in an innovative way”, Departure offers a welcome departure from the traditional documentary mode that still tends to dominate so much South African photography.
The exhibition brings together Roger Ballen's most recent photographic explorations; Lien Botha's new series of ink-jet prints; Abrie Fourie's haunted silkscreens; Dale Yudelman's constructed colour prints and polaroids and Patricia Driscoll's fleeting, emotive landscapes. In all these works the very idea of unequivocal visual evidence is overturned, photography is not just a documentary tool, but an active, agitating, productive force. Botha's White Stick for the Arctic collapses different realities, seasons and places onto a single plane to reveal photography's complex relationship with time while simultaneously eluding it, making pictures that both arrest time and show it passing, if elliptically.
For where-we-r Fourie has captured a series of suspended moments and illusive vignettes that at first hold the attention only fleetingly, but linger in the head like an afterimage. These works seem laden with an undisclosed narrative significance that strains at the very frames of his images; reality is kept at arm's length, its absence not particularly noticed, while the present is lost in a haunted imagined past. Ballen's almost performative process of combining portrait photography with painterly and sculptural elements sets in motion complex physiological and intellectual contortions relating to the staging of the body and art. The combined result is an illusive but deeply engaging exhibition that transforms the image into a site for narrative construction and disruption and the act of looking into an act of reading.