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Agence VU - Guy Tillim
Guy Tillim

Born in 1962 in Johannesburg.

Guy Tillim is a great figure of the contemporary South-African photographic scene. He began as a young reporter in the 1980’s, when he became aware of photography as a way to fight against the racial gap created by the Apartheid in his country: “the camera is the ideal tool to transcend those borders, to see what happened in my own country”.

For years, Tillim photographed documentary projects of visual and historical strength to create testimonies to the social conflict and inequalities prevailing in South Africa. In those pictures, blunt and dark colours appear suddenly from a damp grey background, in an imitative harmony with the harshness of its subjects.

His work has been widely published in press and in numerous books, and exhibited in prestigious festivals and collective exhibitions throughout Europe; for example, Africa Remix in 2004, PHotoEspaña in 2005 and Dokumenta XII in 2007.

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Museum of the Revolution (2019)

With this new series Museum of the Revolution, Guy Tillim observes the effects of decolonisation within the major capital cities of Africa. His extensive wanderings have in recent years led him to Johannesburg, Durban, Maputo, Beira, Harare, Nairobi, Kampala, Addis Ababa, Luanda, Libreville, Accra, Abidjan, Dakar and Dar es Salaam.The avenues, named and renamed, act as silent witnesses to the ebb and flow of political, economic and social changes. They have become “the museum” of the two major revolutions that have emerged in these countries in recent decades: from colonial regimes to post-colonial regimes, borrowing from socialist practices, then from African nationalism to capitalistic...

Edit Beijing (2017)

Born during a artistic residency, the series Edit Beijing is the conclusion of Guy Tillim's wandering throught Beijing's streets and alleys. With this pictures, the South African photographer captures instants from the daylilife before presenting them as dyptichs or triptychs. The photos are placed side by side to, in a playful manner, create a feeling of consistency as if it was a continuous scene when they are in fact independant pictures. ?? Quite different from the cityscapes' photos of Tillim in African cities, Edit Beijing sees the photographer getting closer, as he noted, " I learned something valuable while making those 'cityscapes'. The more visible you are to people in the...

Second Nature 1 (2012)

Tillim has been photographing the landscape in French Polynesia. He was drawn to this landscape that has been continuously sketched - and later photographed - since Captain James Cook's voyages in the late 18th century, perhaps because it almost eludes convincing representation. In reading the accounts of the artists who accompanied Cook, Tillim was interested to note that their debates on-board ship around the subject of the representation of landscape are very similar to those we have today: how much do you 'give' a scene and how much do you let it speak for itself? In this regard, he explains his own difficulties in finding a way through this binary because of our strongly conditioned...

Avenue Patrice Lumumba (2008)

These photographs are not collapsed histories of post-colonial African states or a meditation on aspects of late-modernist-era colonial structures, but a walk through avenues of dreams. Patrice Lumumba's dream, his nationalism, is discernible in the structures, if one reads certain clues, as is the death of his dream, in these de facto monuments. How strange that modernism, which eschewed monument and past for nature and future, should carry such memory so well.

Business aviation in DRC

With only 300 miles of paved roads, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (a country roughly the size of Western Europe) is dependent on its aircraft, regardless of the planes' safety records or sturdiness. A charter outfit called Business Aviation has become crucial to the delicate economy. Herewith, some images of the D.R.C.'s fearless fliers and their aircraft.

Jo'burg, South Africa

Jo'burg: an intimate nickname for a South African metropolis. It is not then Johannesburg that is offered to look at here, but the personal vision that Guy Tillim has of it. He drags us inside districts, inside the buildings of blighted areas of the capital of the richest province of South Africa.

Leopold and Mobutu, Democratic Republic of Congo

done in 2003, this story is talking about a moving Africa. the title is a nod to the past of Zaire, but everything in these pictures shows the current hupeaval of a world that is searching for itself. Zaire, former Belgian Congo...Belgian domination under Leopold II, then the authoritarian power of Mobutu Sese Seko...and then Leopoldville that became Kinshasa. But from Leopold to Mobutu, Africa seems only to remember the idea of unstability.


Museum of the Revolution

These photographs were made on long walks through the streets of African capitals, including Johannesburg, Durban, Maputo, Beira, Harare, Nairobi, Kigali, Kampala, Addis Ababa, Luanda, Libreville, Accra, Dakar and Dar es Salaam, and the series takes its title from the Museum of the Revolution in Maputo, Mozambique, which is situated on the Avenida 24 Julho. The 24th of July 1875 marked the end of an Anglo-Portuguese conflict for possession of the territory that was decided in favour of Portugal. One hundred years later the name of the avenue remained the same because Mozambique’s independence from Portugal was proclaimed in June 1975 and now the 24th of July is Nationalisation Day.

In the Museum of the Revolution, there is a panoramic painting produced by North Korean artists depicting the liberation of the capital from Portuguese colonial rule. It illustrates the rhetoric of a revolution as the leader and followers parade through the streets and avenues, laid out with grandeur by the colonial powers. These streets, named and renamed, function as silent witnesses to the ebb and flow of political, economic and social shifts of power and become a museum of the many revolutions that have taken place in African countries over the past 65 years.

In Tillim’s photographs, the streets of these African capitals reflect a new reality, distinct from the economic stagnation wrought by socialist policies that usually accompanied African nationalism, the reality of rebuilding and enterprise, and new sets of aspirations imbued with capitalistic values.
Text by: Achille Mbembe

Publisher: MACK, co-published with Foundation Henri Cartier-Bresson (2019)
Size: 28 x 26 cm  

Edit Beijing

Design by SYB. Edition limited to 500 copies with a signed c-print.

Color snapshots took in the street by south african photographer Guy Tillim during his artistic residency in Beijing
Text by: Guy Tillim

Publisher: Éditions Bessard (2017)
Size: 27,5 x 25,5 cm  

O Futuro Certo

Co-published by The Walther Collection, this book presents selections from Guy Tillim’s most influential works and series of the last decade, including “Mai Mai militia in training,” “Jo’burg,” “Avenue Patrice Lumumba,” and “Second Nature.” Anchored in photojournalism but working against the grain of spectacle, Tillim portrays the communities, social landscapes and symbolic structures of societies altered by conflict. From explorations of modernist architecture—and its utopian ruins—in post-colonial Angola, Congo and Mozambique, to the homes and private lives of Johannesburg’s inner-city residents, Tillim’s work raises timely questions about the politics and representation of the built environment.

Publisher: The Walther Collection / Steidl (2015)
304 pages
Size: 26.5 x 23 cm  

Avenue Patrice Lumumba

Guy Tillim's earlier photographs documented war-torn Africa and the people whose lives have been shaped by years of conflict and hardship. In this book he focuses on the structures that dot the urban landscape of these troubled countries. The eighty images in this book from Angola, Mozambique, Madagascar, and the Democratic Republic of Congo reveal modern buildings constructed with illusions of prosperity and peace and then left to decay. This collection reflects the intuitive brilliance that is Guy Tillim's hallmark, tells Africa's story of failure and atrophy, and points to the intersection of present-day Africa with its colonial past in countries that were forsaken in the name of progress and the perpetual quest for power.
Text by: Robert Gardner et Guy Tillim

Publisher: Prestel Publishing (2008)
128 pages
Size: 34 x 24 cm
ISBN :3791340662   

Jo' Burg

Cette serie de photographies de Johannesburg se propose de suivre les destins des habitants de cette ville construite sur les fondements de l'apartheid.

Publisher: Filigranes éditions / Ste Publishers (2005)
254 pages
Size: 13x17,5 cm
ISBN :2-35046-014-2   

Leopold and Mobutu

Ce livre pose un regard sur les événements passés en République Démocratique du Congo entre le roi des Belges Léopold II et le dictateur Mobutu.

Publisher: Filigranes Éditions (2004)
56 pages
Size: 23x32 cm  


    2017 - Prix HCB 2017

    2006 - Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography awarded by the Peabody Museum, Harvard University

    2005 - Leica-Oscar Barnack Award (for the Jo'burg series)

    2004 - DaimlerChrysler Award for Photography, South Africa

    2003 - Higashikawa Overseas Photographer Award, Japan

    2002 - Prix SCAM (Société Civile des Auteurs Multimedia) Roger Pic, France (for Kuito, Angola)

    1999 - Mondi Award for photojournalism, South Africa (report on the Himba people of Northern Namibia)

    1998 - Mondi Award for photojournalism, South Africa (Congo River: journey from Kisangani to Kinshasa)


Museum of the Revolution (Paris)
From 2019-02-26 to 2019-06-02

The South African photographer Guy Tillim is the winner of the 2017 HCB Award, attributed with the support of Fondation d’entreprise Hermès. With this new series Museum of the Revolution, he observes the effects of decolonisation within the major capital cities of Africa. His extensive wanderings have in recent years led him to Johannesburg, Durban, Maputo, Beira, Harare, Nairobi, Kampala, Addis Ababa, Luanda, Libreville, Accra, Abidjan, Dakar and Dar es Salaam.The avenues, named and renamed, act as silent witnesses to the ebb and flow of political, economic and social changes. They...

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Museum of the Revolution (Cape Town)
From 2017-10-12 to 2017-11-25

Over the past four years Tillim has been photographing the streets of African cities including Johannesburg, Durban, Maputo, Beira, Harare, Nairobi, Kigali, Kampala, Addis Ababa, Luanda, Libreville, Accra, Dakar and Dar es Salaam. Describing the conception of this series, he writes: \"In Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, on the Avenida 24 Julho, there is an institution called the Museum of the Revolution. The avenue was named soon after the establishment of Lourenço Marques as the Portuguese colonial capital. The 24th of July 1875 marked the end of a Luso-British conflict for possession...

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Second Nature (Pontault-Combault)
From 2013-09-15 to 2013-12-22

This group of photos explores to what extent a photographer can truly render a natural or urban landscape by evoking a question which is inherent to the representation of landscape: “How much do you ‘give’ a scene and how much do you let it speak for itself ?” The Polynesian landscape has been the subject of numerous sketches and photos since Captain Cook’s voyages at the end of the 18th century, perhaps because it almost eludes any convincing form of representation. When Guy Tillim takes photos of a landscape, he sets himself the task of “actually seeing the landscape. It’s a space that...

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South Africa from apartheid to nowadays (Sète)
From 2009-04-30 to 2009-05-10

Born in 1962 in South Africa, Guy Tillim tries to live his photography without compromise.His colored story on the apartheid left out in Johannesburg has been the subject of a book published by éditions Filigranes. In 1985, he joined a militant collective photographers group against aparteid. This exhibition, of approximately fourty photos, just been shown at the Henri Cartier Bresson Fondation

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Jo' burg and Avenue Patrice Lumumba (Paris)
From 2009-01-13 to 2009-04-19

Jo'burg (2004) Birthplace of Guy Tillim, Johannesburg has been radicaly changed after the end of apparteid, with a controversal urban transformation. Tillim was interested in the people forgotten of this metamorphosis : inhabitants prisoners of the unhealthy towers, awaiting reconstruction, that he had observed in their daily lives. Tillim photographed families, children, teenagers lonely excluded who lived in those decomposated apartments, squatted, or destroyed by the violence palpable of expulsions – and the town, ghostlike, from the top of these towers. Patrice Lumumba Avenue (2008)...

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