b. 1981

South African

Based in Cape Town, South Africa


Available for commissions
& assignments

Mikhael Subotzky, born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1981, is a Johannesburg-based artist whose works in multiple mediums engage critically with the instability of images and the politics of representation.

Subotzky studied at Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town and his first body of photographic work, Die Vier Hoeke (The Four Corners), was an in-depth study of the South African penal system. Umjiegwana (The Outside) and Beaufort West extended this investigation to the relationship between everyday life in post-apartheid South Africa and the historical, spatial and institutional structures of control.

Subotzky joined Magnum Photos in 2007, becoming a full member in 2011. His practice has evolved to include film installation, video, collage and painting. His work has been featured in a number of important international exhibitions, including most recently Global(e) Resistance at the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2020–21), Masculinities: Liberation through Photography at the Barbican Art Gallery, London (2020), Inheritance: Recent Video Art from Africa at the Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles (2019), and Fragile Beauty: Photographs from the Sir Elton John and David Furnish Collection at Victoria & Albert Museum, London (2024).

His Ponte City project (co-authored with Patrick Waterhouse) was the recipient of the 2015 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize and was presented at Art Basel Unlimited in 2018. The full exhibition and archive of this project has since been acquired by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and will be the subject of a monographic exhibition. 

Subotzky’s work was also included in Lubumbashi (2013) and Liverpool (2012) biennials. Pixel Interface, a multi-component video installation, was included in All the World’s Futures, curated by Okwui Enwezor at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015).

Hs third film, Epilogue: Disordered, and Flatulent (2022) is a filmic study of generational inheritance and the mechanisms by which patriarchy self-propagates. Interlocking personal and historical narratives link colonial violence with the very idea of the father figure and “fathers of nations.”

Selected works


Ponte City

Mikhael Subotzky

An intimate social portrait of Johannesburg's iconic Ponte City and its community of residents by Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse

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