Interior Relations (Charles Lane Press)

Title: Interior Relations

Photographer/s: Ian van Coller

Contributor/s: Essay: Sindiwe Magona
Design: Andrew Sloat
Editor: Seth Boyd
Production Supervisor: Sue Medlicott
Color Separations: Robert J. Hemmesey

Date of publication: 2011

Place of publication: New York

Dimensions: 11.5×13.25 inches

Edition size: 500

Type of binding: Casebound in Japanese saifu cloth with French fold dustjacket

Number of pages: 68

Number of pictures: 28

Type of printing: Offset

Publisher: Charles Lane Press

Designer: Andrew Sloat

Editor: Seth Boyd

Language: English

ISBN: 978-0-9818770-3-7

Category: Book

Price: $65

Summary: While Ian van Coller was growing up in the 1970s, the black women working in his parents’ upper class home in a whites-only suburb of Johannesburg were valued as members of the family. Nannies and maids who helped raise the children and run the household, they were ever-present confidants and friends. And yet they were conspicuously absent from family vacations and photo albums.

Apartheid, though it has been officially consigned to history, continues to live on in nearly a million South African homes where blacks still serve the needs of the white minority. Ian van Coller’s first monograph, Interior Relations, deftly probes this enduring racial fault line with a simple yet elegant premise: he has asked black housekeepers, nannies and maids to wear their finest clothes, and to sit for formal portraits in the homes they care for.

Though the subjects’ white employers are never shown, evidence of their privilege crowds around the women, forever out of reach: every portrait a cameo of apartheid in redux.

For Sindiwe Magona, one of South Africa’s most celebrated black writers, working as a domestic in her youth provided a desperately needed but meager income that she was forced to supplement by selling sheep heads on the street. Serving white families represented a constriction of the soul that was broken only by the force of her will to become a writer.

Magona’s introduction channels the voices of van Coller’s subjects through her own years as a domestic worker. Ian van Coller’s delicate and reverential portraits, coupled with Sindiwe Magona’s searing essay, offer a starkly original view of the intersection of race and class in post-apartheid South Africa.

Date and place of birth of photographer/s: 1970, Johannesburg, South Africa

Website: www.ianvancoller.com

Book link: http://shop.charleslanepress.com/products/interior-relations

Donated by: Ian van Coller

Related books:

Interior Relations
Along the Niger
Butte Chrome
Butte, America: A Vernacular History. Vol. 1
Breaking Ground: Contemporary Photography at the College of William & Mary

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Exhibition Catalog for “A Survey of Documentary Styles in Early 21st Century Photobooks”

More about the exhibition here, here and here.
Order the book here.
Thank you to Patrick Aguilar of Owl & Tiger Books who did such an outstanding job designing the iPL’s first exhibition catalog!

“…the Indie Photobook Library is fast becoming one of Washington’s more interesting small collections.” – Mark Jenkins, Washington Post Express, November 9, 2011

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