Goldblatt documents the scene of the crime

2016-10-12 08:57
David Goldblatt (Foto24)

David Goldblatt (Foto24)

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Cape Town - Ellen Pakkies sits on the bed on which she strangled her tik-addicted son Abie in 2007. Her eyes are blank. Her clasped hands hold a crumpled tissue.

The gritty black and white photograph is one of a series of pictures by Randfontein-born photographer David Goldblatt depicting portraits of people captured at the scene of the crime.

The exhibition is presently at the Pace/McGill gallery in New York and also highlights other convicted South Africans.

He could not be reached on Tuesday but told the Ormsidirect photography blog in an interview recently, "I have asked myself, in the fear and fury of holdups with knives and guns, who are the people who are doing this to us?"

"Are they monsters? Are they 'ordinary' people – if there are such people as 'ordinary'? Could they be my children or grandchildren? Are they you or me? How did they come to do this? What are their lives?"

In interviews posted on YouTube he explains that he has been held up in his office in his study in Johannesburg, his wife has been held up and he has been mugged several times.

At first he was angry but after a long time he wondered about the people doing this.

Not monsters

He worked with organisations rehabilitating offenders and interviewed people after he had photographed them for an extended caption to accompany their picture.

He said that on the whole he found that those who committed crimes were not monsters.

"For the most part, these were people who were ordinary folk. It could have been me, it could have been my kids, very easily."

In an interview with arts specialist Diane Frankel he explained that Pakkies' son was the product of her rape and had become addicted to tik.

She built a back room for him in the yard of the house but he had constantly stolen from her and made her life difficult.

One day she simply killed him and then went to report herself to the police.

There was also a picture of a girl caught shoplifting in Cape Town standing outside a shopping centre in the centre of Cape Town.

He explained that the photograph conveyed a strong sense of the girl, who was deeply affected by what had happened.

Read more on:    us  |  media  |  crime

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