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Publication Launch Roger Palmer - SPOOR

18:00 on 26 September 2019
Street Level Photoworks

Join us for the book launch of SPOOR by Roger Palmer, published by GOST. Roger will be discussing the project followed by a Q+A and book signing. Free but ticketed – Book via Eventbrite.

SPOOR comprises groups of colour photographs made by Roger Palmer while following rail routes between towns and settlements of South Africa. The photographs were accumulated between 2014 and 2018 as Palmer drove along mostly minor roads through the country’s nine provinces.

Special 25% Off Launch Price – £30 (RRP £40)

A ‘spoor’ is the track or scent of an animal or person. In Afrikaans it also refers to rail tracks (South Africa’s rail network, used to be called Spoornet). The title of the book suggests acts of following and shadowing determined by these mostly defunct rail routes, many of which are now used as footpaths between township and town. SPOOR is a continuation of Palmer’s work, focusing primarily on photography and other media to address concepts of place and placelessness, location and dislocation, migration and settlement.

During several visits to South Africa (2014–2018) I drove along minor roads through the country’s nine provinces. My aim was to follow as closely as possible rural rail routes between towns and settlements. From the 550 or so places where I stopped to make pictures, 83 daylight images are presented here in ten series. A double page of station place-names introduces each series. Arranged according to their locations on an otherwise absent national map, the names are isolated in darkness. Each configuration constitutes my selection of a picture series, the sites of which may be relatively close to each other or separated by vast distances. Some of the place-names are those of regional centres including several that have been re-named in the post-apartheid era. Others refer only to the faded railway signage that preserves their fragile status as places. SPOOR concludes with a ‘map’ showing the distribution of all photographic locations that contributed to the project – Roger Palmer

Roger Palmer’s work has been the subject of numerous international solo and group exhibitions, including most recently ‘Uncommon Ground: Land Art in Britain, 1966-1979 (2013) a touring exhibition organised by the Arts Council. In 1987, he was awarded the Bill Brandt Prize for ‘Precious Metals’, the first of several projects made in South Africa. His books include Precious Metals (1986), International Waters (2000), Overseas (2004), Circulation (2012), Jetty (2014) and Phosphorescence (2014). An earlier exhibition, Lost at Sea, was exhibited at Street Level in 1990.


Street Level Photoworks


© Robert Palmer

© Robert Palmer