g u y   t i l l i m

“Guy Tillim is one of the foremost African photographers of his generation. His various series on wars and civil tension in central African countries, like his explorations of villages and suburbs, have drawn public attention for their original balance between observational abilities and compositional efficaciousness” (Stefano Chiodi).
After debuting as a photojournalist in the 80’s during apartheid, Tillim (b. Johannesburg 1962) decided to give up commissioned work and aim his lens beyond ‘the event’ towards less sensational and more revelatory moments, avoiding all risks of trivialisation and all ‘African’ stereotypes. In this sense he deconstructs the language of reportage: the photographer’s eye loses its neutrality and its claim to see everything through the camera lens. For Tillim, bearing witness always includes an act of interpretation and, consequently, the observer’s response to his images also tends to become more profound and involving, less passive and instantaneous as occurs in the classic reportage approach. 
Tillim’s photographs don’t offer any direct judgement about what is portrayed, about the fragments of reality he seizes. It is in this sense that some have mentioned his ‘humanistic’ approach to photography which, as Tillim himself says, implies the need for an ‘interior journey’ in order to really understand what you are seeing and to represent it in the most responsible way. 
“The ease with which we can create images today has trapped us in the end. The infinitely repeated icons are a coin exchanged like any other: we cease to understand what we see because the mere meanings are already enough, they mean anything whatsoever but express nothing. I think the most responsible position to take in this context is quite clear” (Guy Tillim). 
Also in his latest series Avenue Patrice Lumumba, shot in 2007/08 in Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Angola and Benin, Tillim’s eye is guided by the course of an interior voyage, not by the search for facile ‘icons’: “These photographs are not collapsed histories of post-colonial African states or a meditation on aspects of late-modernist era colonial structures, but a walk through avenues of dreams”.


Guy Tillim is the author chosen to realize the photographic project on Rome for FotoGrafia – festival internazionale di Roma 2009 edition. Roma città di mezzo is on show at Palazzo delle Esposizioni from 26th May to 30th June 2009.

Guy Tillim: three solo shows at Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, at Fundãçao Serralves, Porto and at Foam_Fotografiemuseum, Amsterdam.
Guy Tillim’s latest body of work, Avenue Patrice Lumumba, together with the Jo’burg series of 2004, will be shown at Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, from 13th of january to 18th of april 2009. After Paris, the exhibition will be hosted by e x t r a s p a z i o in may 2009.
From 28th march to 17th may 2009, Guy Tillim will exhibitAvenue Patrice Lumumba series on a solo show at Fundãçao Serralves, Porto and from 29th may to 30 august 2009 at Foam_Fotografiemuseum, Amsterdam. 

Guy Tillim participates in the group show Short Stories in Contemporary Photography at the Museum of Design, Zurich, from september 23 to january 4, 2009.