Mikhael Subotzky

Cell 33, E2 Section, Pollsmoor: Maximum Security Prison, South Africa ,2005

Archival Pigment Ink on Cotton Rag Paper 47x127cm each

Courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

In his photographs, Mikhael Subotzky marches the viewers down the sealed corridors behind the gates of one of the most closely guarded prisons in the world. Subotzky presents chilling scenes from transition cells and the innermost chambers of Pollsmoore prison, where a spine tingling system of rules and regulations is revealed, composed simultaneously outside the law and under it. “No man truly knows a nation until he has visited inside its prisons,” wrote Nelson Mandela, in his long hard road to freedom. “A nation is not said to be judged according to the manner in which it treats its high standing citizens, but rather by how it treats it humblest citizens.”

Subotzky’s series is an in depth photographic investigation, in the wider socio-political and historic context, of the system of punishment devices which served as the brutal instrument of racism and colonial oppression in the hands of the apartheid regime.