Tales from the City of Gold: A

Tales from the City of Gold: A photo exhibition in London

In this incisive and layered series, British photographer Jason Larkin explores the social and environmental impact of the vast waste dumps created by Johannesburg’s once powerful gold mining industry.

Tales from the City of Gold: A

COG08_a (Medium)Flowers Gallery will hold an exhibition of photos by British photographer Jason Larkin, who spent two years in Johannesburg from 2010, focusing on the legacy of the mine dumps, a long ignored aspect of the city.

His photography from the project has been exhibited across South Africa and now the series, called Tales from the City of Gold, will be shown at Flowers Gallery Kingsland Road from 21 February to 29 March.

A city built on gold, Johannesburg was founded in 1886 when settlers and immigrants descended on the largest reef of the precious metal ever to be discovered. The area transformed quickly into a mining mecca with the vast and rapid expansion of the city reflecting the increasing global thirst for gold, and helping to fuel a government that changed South Africa for ever.

COG27 (Medium)In this incisive and layered series, Larkin explores the social and environmental impact of the vast waste dumps created by Johannesburg’s once powerful gold mining industry. Six billion tonnes of these deposits form the backdrop of South Africa’s largest city with around four hundred thousand people currently living surrounded by six billion tonnes of toxic waste.

Larkin’s images of life on and around the city’s incongruous man-made hills; territory where history, economy and contemporary South Africa collide, shed light on some of the most challenging questions facing the region today.

Photographing the landscape and people affected by these toxic monuments, Larkin highlights the ignored realities of these spaces, and the denial of the complicated legacy left behind. Tales from the City of Gold explores these tailings as an extension of the thriving metropolis that surrounds them. Ethnographic in its approach, this project is the result of Larkin living in Johannesburg for two years, observing the ordinary and extraordinary nature of life alongside the dumps. Focusing on the co-existence between past and present allows a unique perspective on the actions of previous generations and reveals that impact on the current society and environment.

COG5 (Medium)
Daniel watches over the hunting dogs he looks after on the mine dump he lives on. Central Johannesburg.

Larkin is internationally recognised for his long term social documentary projects and environmental portraiture. His immersive process and slow approach allow for comprehensive bodies of work that reveal and frame important social, economic and political issues. His work is often concerned with contextualising present realities through historical legacies.

After completing his MA in 2007, Larkin moved to Egypt. His first body of work, Past Perfect, a meditation on the way museums present history to us, was widely recognised with awards, including the PDN New Portraiture Award in 2011. Cairo Divided, a unique and freely distributed bilingual newspaper explored the capital’s rapidly-mutating urban landscape. Exhibitions have included the Brighton Photo Biennial 2012 and the Hereford Photography Festival Commission in 2011.

The exhibition will be accompanied by the book Tales from the City of Gold, published by Kehrar Verlag.The publication, designed by Realise Creative, contains archival images, original etchings by Ester Svensson and phrases from a Fanagalo dictionary, an old pidgin language developed for and still used in South Africa’s mines. Essays are by South African based writer Mara Kardas-Nelson and the photography academic Julian Rodriguez.

The exhibition is open from Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 6pm.

Details on www.flowersgallery.com