A Portrait of Disease, An Experience at Kalafong Hospital
DAVID GOLDBLATT, 2000
The physician, Miguel Ribeiro, has dared to find beauty where other practitioners have been concerned only to objectify the subjects of their clinical and forensic studies, and where ordinary folk are wont to avert their eyes from fear or even disgust.
He has done this without fudging but indeed by precisely applying the understanding afforded him by his profession.Nor has he falsely dramatised or indulged in sentimentality. In the result he has produced photographs of pathologies of the human condition which are remarkable for the depth of the paradoxes they pose.Somehow the scientific is not obscured by or sacrificed to the aesthetic, yet the clarity of both, seemingly, is heightened.And far from beauty concealing or minimising what is suffered, it seems to make the condition suffered both real and immediate.Science and art, the beautiful and the terrible are here brought into rare and moving contiguity
During 1985 I had a short-lived interest in self-portraiture. In December 2000, again in South Africa for a vacation in Cape Town, this interest was revived, now lastingly and as the central theme in my photography. Until mid-2003 the selected body area was typically photographed in interaction with objects or landscapes. Thereafter I returned to the neutral backgrounds of 1985, and came closer to the more intimate spirit of that period. In general I sought to make a body part function as an autonomous subject and explore, in a more or less abstract way, its sculptural potential or its texture, to depict it as an object stripped of its human identity.