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Untitled from Interior Series #9

© Zwelethu Mthethwa. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Untitled from Interior Series #9

Artist: Zwelethu Mthethwa (South African, born 1960)
Culture: South African
Date: 2002 (printed 2006)
Medium: Chromogenic print mounted on aluminum
70 1/2 x 95 inches (179.1 x 241.3 cm)
Classification: Photograph
Credit Line: Gift of Blake Byrne, A.B.’57
Label Text:Zwelethu Mthethwa is best known for his large format photographs depicting Africans living on the margins of society. This photograph is part of a series of household interiors from a settlement outside Cape Town, South Africa. Mthethwa has carefully composed this scene with the help of the sitter, who chose where and how she wanted to be posed. The woman’s gaze communicates to the viewer her sense of dignity and pride in the room’s appearance.

Originally trained as a genre painter, Mthethwa was one of the few black South Africans to be educated in the fine arts during the racially segregated time of apartheid. His images prompt us to think in a new way about globalization and the aftereffects of colonialism. The use of monumental scale, vivid colors, and an honest portrayal of his subjects in their modest homes is a clear departure from the conventions of staged studio portraits, as well as traditional black and white documentary photography.

Object number: 2017.4.37