Zanele Muholi curates the latest exhibition of David Goldblatt’s archive in New York

The late South African photographer’s close friend and mentee explores Golblatt’s “living memory” in a new show at Pace Gallery

by Sean O’Toole

David Goldblatt’s red-roofed bungalow in the Johannesburg suburb of Fellside was more than just a family home. For generations of South African artists, among them William Kentridge, Jo Ractliffe and Zanele Muholi, it was a place of secular pilgrimage. Muholi, who has curated a selection of 45 photos by Goldblatt at Pace Gallery in New York, fatefully made this journey in the mid 2000s. Goldblatt warmly recalled the visit by his soon-to-be protégé a year before his death in 2018: “She phoned and made an appointment, she arrived at our house, and she said, ‘You’re going to mentor me.’”

Goldblatt’s account foregoes Muholi’s chosen pronouns, they/them. He was not being unkind. “I have a particular relationship with Zanele,” Goldblatt told me once. This relationship predated Muholi’s adoption of the gender-neutral designation sometime after completing an MFA in documentary media at Toronto’s Ryerson University in 2009.

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