Santu Mofokeng

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Santu Mofokeng is a South African photographer.


Mofokeng was born in 1956 in Soweto, Johannesburg. While still a teenager, he began his career as a street photographer, went on to work as an assistant in a darkroom, and then he became a news photographer. Subsequently he joined the collective Afrapix; he works under the alias Mofokengâ. Initially he documented mainly the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.[1]

Mofokeng is known to be able to rearrange conventional subjection in a photographic presentation with a spiritual dimension; an example of this is Chasing Shadows from 1997. After starting off with street and news photography, he specialized in landscapes. In his images he presents them in relation to ownership, power, ecological effects and memory, but avoids an open political expression. His work shows his deep concern for the condition of the (biophysical) environment at the beginning of the 21st century.[2][3][4]

At his exhibition Let's Talk in 2010 he explained, that the essence is not what you see in these photographs, but what you don't see (but feel).[5]


Mofokeng exhibited many times. The following list shows his solo exhibitions:[3]

  • 1990: Like Shifting Sand, Market Galleries, Johannesburg
  • 1994: Rumours / The Bloemhof Portfolio, Market Galleries, Johannesburg
  • 1995: Distorting Mirror/Townships Imagined, Worker´s Library, Johannesburg
  • 1997: Chasing Shadows - Gertrude Posel Gallery, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
  • 1998: Black Photo Album/Look At Me, Netherlands Photo Institute, Rotterdam
  • 1998: Chasing Shadows, Netherlands Photo Institute, Rotterdam
  • 1998: Lunarscapes, Netherlands Photo Institute, Rotterdam
  • 1999: Black Photo Album/Look At Me, FNAC Montparnasse
  • 2000: Chasing Shadows, Transparencies International, Berlin
  • 2000: Sad Landscapes, Camouflage Gallery, Johannesburg
  • 2003: Chasing Shadows, Memling Museum, Bruges
  • 2004: Rethinking Landscape, Centre photographique d'Ile-de-France (CPIF), Pontault-Combault
  • 2004: Santu Mofokeng, David Krut Projects, New York City
  • 2004: Santu Mofokeng, Gallery MOMO, Johannesburg
  • 2006: Invoice Iziko, South African National Art Museum, Cape Town
  • 2007: Invoice, Standard Bank Art Museum, Johannesburg
  • 2008: Homeland Security, Johannesburg Art Museum
  • 2008: Santu Mofokeng’s Landscape, Warren Siebrits, Johannesburg
  • 2009: Mofokeng survey exhibition, Autograph ABP, London
  • 2010: Chasing Shadows, Anne Arbor Institute of Humanities, Michigan
  • 2010: Let’s Talk, Arts on Main, Johannesburg
  • 2010: Remaining Past, Minshar Art Institute, Tel Aviv
  • 2011-12: Chasing Shadows, Paris, Bern, Bergen, Antwerp[6]


Among several other awards, Mofokeng received a Prince Claus Award from the Netherlands in 2009. He was honored "for the outstanding quality and content of his work, for his refiguration of the powers of photographic representation, for his acute insight into the cultural meanings in landscapes and the reciprocal relations of environment and development, and for his significant contribution to photography in Africa."[1]

Other award he received were:[3]


  1. ^ a b Prince Claus Fund (2009) biography
  2. ^ Luirink, Bart (April 10, 2010) blog, ZAM Africa Magazine (Dutch)
  3. ^ a b c Cargo Collective, biography
  4. ^ Cargo Collective, Chasing Shadows
  5. ^ Teeffelen, Walter van (2010) biography (Dutch)
  6. ^ De Buren, hasing Shadows. Santu Mofokeng, Thirty Years of Photographic Essays (Dutch)