In architectural jargon, verticality is king. From the Great Pyramid of Giza to the once-towering mediaeval spire of Lincoln Cathedral and on to London’s Shard, we have always built taller for impact, prestige and ground-space economy.
It was prestige and land pressure that guided the conception some 50-odd years ago of what was once Africa’s tallest building, Ponte City in Johannesburg, now the subject of an exhibition by South African photographer Mikhael Subotzky and British artist Patrick Waterhouse.¹
Subotzky and Wabegan working at the monolithic block in 2007 and over the next five years they returned repeatedly to document the building: photographing every door in the multi-level structure and the view from every window; archiving the lives of the residents, from capturing what they were watching on TV to gathering discarded belongings.Cumulatively the work provides a cross-section of an iconic South African landmark that continues to symbolise the hopes and fears of the country’s most populous city, and in turn, this post-apartheid nation.
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¹ Extracted from the Herald Scotland
Image Credits: Featured:Ponte City from Yeoville Ridge, Mikhael Subotzky & Patrick Waterhouse, 2008 – courtesy Goodman Gallery © Magnum Photos
Cleaning the Core, Ponte City, Johannesburg, Mikhael Subotzky & Patrick Waterhouse, 2008 – courtesy Goodman Gallery © Magnum Photos
Untitled 3, Ponte City, Johannesburg, Mikhael Subotzky & Patrick Waterhouse, 2008 – courtesy Goodman Gallery © Magnum Photos