PHOTOGRAPHY: Billy Monk

ART Billy monk01 PHOTOGRAPHY: Billy Monk

Michael Stevenson Gallery in Green Point, South Africa, will be presenting a selection of Cape Town Nightclub photographs taken from 1967-9 by renown photographer Billy Monk from March 1st to April 11th. Apart from being an important cultural record of South African history, these intimate photographs show the other side of a life with apartheid. Far from the reality of daily life in the late 1960s South Africa, The Catacombs gives us a rare insight into the jovial and high spirited night club where Monk worked as a bouncer.

Whilst we can’t deny their importance, these ‘snapshots’ were the beginnings of a huge industry that every club nowadays perpetuates, especially through the internet and for advertising purposes. Monk sold his photographs to his subjects, a spontaneous type of portraiture that’s completely at the whim of the venue. Looking at the people in each photograph, I remember what posing was like before digital cameras – you were either looking at the camera, or looking away. The simplicity of Monk’s approach enabled him to develop rapport with club goers, thus giving us such candid photographs. Definitely a must-see.

Text by Marion Piper.

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