Tim Hopwood



I remember taking a photograph in 1989 of a guy called Norman. He lived about ten miles out of Grahamstown, in some kind of rehab-type place for poor whites. A friend had met him at a bar one night. He had his hand all wrapped up in a filthy old bandage. He walked into town to have a beer and try to meet a girl. I went with my friend to visit him a few days later, and photographed him. But I really didn’t like how it made me feel afterwards... 1997
...I felt I had seen him as some type of social specimen, and by photographing him, it was as if I had tried to preserve him in a jar of formaldehyde. You don’t have to have read Susan Sontag to realise that photography can be a form of exploitation. All you have to do is be a half-decent human being. (Having said that, however, it does seem to me odd that the art industry makes such a big fuss about photographers exploiting people, but none of us raise so much as a squeek about exploitation by the captains of industry. Quite the contrary, sometimes we can all be seen sucking the dicks of said captains, as was the case with Brett Kebble. Yes, we occupy a lovely moral high ground, don’t we?) Anyway, I never did that again, and when my lecturers suggested I start photographing people, I focused only on other artists, musicians and writers: people who I felt were not disempowered in any way in the unspoken contract that exists between the photographer and the subject. So this body of work is of creative people: friends and others who have passed through my life at some stage or another and whose work I admired. There was thus always a situation of mutual trust and respect. They’re done in a way that is very out of step with the New Blandness. They’re done in a way that I believe speaks of some aspect or another of that person’s creative output, and they’re done (like all my work, I guess) in a way that pleases me rather than a few Important People in the art industry. Most were taken in moments of intense or heightened emotion, like just after they had come off stage, if they were actors or musicians.

Tim Hopwood is represented by the PH Centre, Cape Town.

To order prints, contact Simone Tredoux: 021 461 3904, simone@phcentre.co.za, www.phcentre.co.za