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Back in pre-apartheid Johannesburg, 1975, a massive 54-storey apartment block was built as testament to the white supremacy of the time, to house the white “sophisticates” in a kind of utopian dreamland. In the 1990s Ponte City, as it was called, became a sanctuary for immigrants from all over Africa, gradually falling into decay and becoming a centre for drug dealing and prostitution. At one point it was known as “suicide central”. In 2007 Subotzky and Waterhouse began documenting the building, which had suffered in the economic downturn. Subotzky and Waterhouse focused on Ponte City’s residents. Over the past seven years they have built an intimacy with the now middle class families, students and, for the first time, even a handful of white residents. Their mammoth project sees them photographing every door and every view from every single window in the building. (Cheryl Newman Dirty Books)
A multi-part book about a 54-story residential building in Johannesburg that Mikhael Subotzky describes as, "a huge blinking advertising crown visible from Soweto in the south to Sandton in the north." Built in 1976, "Ponte City" housed young professional types before falling on hard times in '90s, as those people fled to the suburbs. Developers who bought the building in 2008 with grand plans to refurbish it went belly-up. Subotzky and Waterhouse's book-in-a-box includes a standard hardcover photobook along with 17 pamphlet/zine type booklets, each focusing on a different aspect of the building. It's an audacious deep-dive into Ponte City that traces its history through archival documents and photographs of those who live there. (Mark Murrmann Mother Jones)
Ponte City is an epic project that has resulted in a superb book. The vast amount of material the authors collected of many years of the life inside this fifty-four-storey building that dominates Johannesburg's skyline made the process of filtering and conceptualizing it very challenging, but was realized thanks to cohesive design. A very important history made with strenuous dedication. (Laia Abril Photo-Eye Blog)
Mikhael Subotzky (b. 1981, South Africa) and Patrick Waterhouse (b. 1981, UK) for their publication Ponte City (Steidl, 2014). The 54-floor apartment block in Johannesburg was built in 1975 for white “sophisticates” under the apartheid and white supremacy regime. During the political transition in the 1990s, it became a refuge for black newcomers and immigrants from all over Africa before decline and neglect led to it being positioned as the prime symbol of urban decay in the city and the epicentre of crime, prostitution and drug dealing. Subotzky and Waterhouse began their project in 2007 working with the remaining residents, after a regeneration project failed. They have created an intimate and deeply evocative social portrait of a culture, building and its community of residents through photographs, architectural plans, and other archival and historical material. An additional sequence of seventeen booklets containing essays and personal stories complete the visual and spatial narrative of this Johannesburg landmark. (The Editors Deutsche Börse Group)
Ponte City definitely is a photobook that deserves to be widely seen and carefully looked at, however much it makes exactly that harder than it maybe should have. Its presentation certainly is a very valid strategy to deal with a vast cache of material that will suffer when you reduce it down to something smaller, a vast cache of material that will offer a lot more with a lot less.
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Book Description Paperback. Condition: New. First Edition, First Printing. SIGNED COPY Book Description: Steidl, 2014. Hardcover with additional softcover books housed in a printed cardboard box. First Edition, First Printing. 192 pages with numerous photographic images throughout. Highly Recommended & SIGNED by Mikhael Subotzky. BOOK CONDITION: New/Fine. SIGNED. Seller Inventory # 1672
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