Gardner Photography Fellow, 2007
Guy Tillim is an award-winning documentary still photographer from South Africa. Tillim began his professional career in 1986 and worked as a freelance photojournalist for the local and foreign media, including Reuters and Agence France-Presse. He has exhibited in more than a dozen countries and published in numerous volumes and journals; his work has focused on documenting social conflict and inequality in the countries of Africa. From teenage soldiers in Rwanda to civil war in Congo to the dislocation of entire populations in Angola, Tillim returns to lands whose violence he once covered as a journalist to recover the shadows that violence produced in the people and lands.
“Guy Tillim…combines a profound sense of historic documentation of African countries ravaged by conflicts and tragedies of all kinds and a very stringent formal aesthetic devoid of all mannerism.”
Independent arts curator
Guy Tillim’s photographs reveal the decay and detritus of colonialism in Western and Southern Africa on a scale both monumental and slight. He exposes the stains, cracks, and filth of huge, crumbling institutional structures—post offices, school, offices, hotels, and banks. He winds around their staircases and looks through their windows, finding offices and classrooms void of basic equipment and furniture. While the people in these images are almost peripheral—at the frames’ edges, with turned backs, or slightly out of focus—there is an acute sense of humanity in the images, shown through the personal objects left behind: an umbrella, a house plant, a purse, a book.
Tillim has received many awards for his work including the Prix SCAM (Société civile des auteurs multimédia) Roger Pic in 2002, the Higashikawa Overseas Photographer Award (Japan) in 2003, the 2004 DaimlerChrysler Arts Award for South African photography, and the 2005 Leica Oskar Barnack Award.
by Guy Tillim, Foreword by Robert Gardner
Peabody Museum Press & Prestel Verlag, Munich, 2009