For Students

Past Exhibitions: 2001

Casting Shadows:
Photographs by Edward West

December 2, 2000-January 28, 2001
West Gallery

Edward West
From the project Casting Shadows 1998-2000

Fine art photographer Edward West has called the photographing of black South Africans "an act of affirmation," an attitude that is exemplified by the images/view on view in Casting Shadows. The large-scale, color photographs were taken between 1997 and 2000, a period during which he traveled throughout South Africa, photographing in the country's communities of color. Shot with high-speed film and digitally printed on drawing paper, the images/view have a pointillist texture and a lush depth. Shadow is used within the images/view as a metaphor for the shifting visibility and invisibility of the black population during the period of political and cultural transformation that has followed apartheid.

West asserts that unlike many who have documented post-apartheid South Africa, he did not go to observe the conflict or the tragic aspects; his goal was deceptively, profoundly simple: to learn something. Looking carefully and allowing himself to be affected by those he met, he saw not the sadness and difficulty of life but, in his words, "people who live together and who with very little still make richness." The richness of the life and the connections among the people in West's images/view is palpable; so, too, is the devastating, marginal landscape through which they must make their way. The figures in West's photographs resonate with life and individuality, in stark contrast to this sparse background, a painful visual legacy of the necessity of making due with leftover scraps of geography and resources.

This exhibition and related programming were made possible by the generous support of Johnson Controls, Inc; SAPPI Fine Paper; Ernestine and Herbert S. Ruben; David L. Chambers and John G. Crane; the Friends of the Museum of Art; and the following University of Michigan units: Office of the President; Office of the Provost; the Office of the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs; MFA Program in Creative Writing; Department of English Language and Literature; Office of the Dean, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies; School of Art + Design; Center for Afroamerican and African Studies; Office of the Vice President for Research; the International Institute; the King Chavez Parks Scholars Program; South African Initiatives Office; the Program in Comparative Literature; the Department of Classics; the Global Ethnic Literature Seminar; and the Detroit South Africa Project.


Quicktime VR Virtual Tour
View the exhibition using a 360 degree virtual tour.

(Quicktime is required. Click here to download and install it.)