Mikhael Subotzky & Patrick Waterhouse

Ponte City, 2008 - 2014

Installation
Photographic installation with archival material
Basel 2018

Ponte City dominates the Johannesburg skyline. The myri-ad myths that encircle this 54-story apartment building spurred Subotzky and Waterhouse to embark on a six-year exploration of its visual, architectural, and social functions. Ponte City was built for wealthy whites during the height of apartheid in the 1970s. But the city center of Johannesburg changed radically when the moneyed class moved to the suburbs in the 1980s and migrants from rural South Africa and immigrants from the rest of the continent moved in. Soon Ponte was a towering symbol of urban decay. In 2007, developers evicted half the tenants and gutted the apartments, but their redevelopment scheme soon ran aground. At this time, the artists started getting to know the remaining tenants, photographing life in the half-occupied block. They collected a large archive of documents and photographs from abandoned apartments, and meticulously photographed every door, window and television set in the building. Ponte City presents a complex narrative about the social history of Johannesburg, interrogating the relationship between buildings, ideologies, and human movement.

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