Figures & Fictions by Tamar Garb, reviewed by Wayne Ford

The images above are iPad screen grabs.

Staged by London’s Victoria & Albert Museum and curated by Tamar Garb in 2011, ‘Figures & Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography’ highlighted the work of 17 South African photographers — Jodi Bieber, Kudzanai Chiurai, Hasan & Husai Essop, David Goldblatt, Pieter Hugo, Terry Kurgan, Sabelo Mlangeni, Santu Mofokeng, Zwelethu Mthethwa, Zanele Muholi Muholi, Jo Ractliffe, Berni Searle, Graeme Williams, Guy Tillim, Mikhael Subotzky, Nonsikelelo ‘Lolo’ Veleko and Roelof Petrus Van Wyk — all of whom life and work in the country and whose images were made of the past decade. 

Format: App compatible with iPad only.

Price: $4.99 (was $16.99 at the time of the review)

Links: iTunes and MAPP Editions

Comment: This app is a digital version of the catalogue that accompanied the V&A exhibition which was published by Steidl (2011), with enhanced content in the form of both video and audio introduction by Garb; videos of Bieber, Essop, Kurgan, Mlangeni, Mofokeng, Van Wyk and Williams; additional audio content, interviews and biography also accompanies each artists entry, with enlargeable images allowing the user to explore each photograph in detail. There is a foreword by Martin Barnes, and an extensive essay by Garb, and in depth conversation between Garb, Achille Mbembe, Sarah Nuttal, Riason Naidoo and Colin Richards, in the form of a text, which will be familiar to anyone who has read the Steidl catalogue. 

There is much about this app to praise — with excellent enhanced content and superb navigation — however it is let down by the design, which presents long bodies of text as pale grey type on a dark coloured background; making the reading experience far from enjoyable.  


Content: 18/20

Design: 8/15

Value: 5/5

TOTAL: 31/40

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