Ponte City — Autopsie d’un rêve architectural en Afrique du Sud (1975-2013)



Ponte City
Autopsie d’un rêve architectural en Afrique du Sud (1975-2013)

Past: January 23 → April 20, 2014

Le BAL presents the last and epic project of South-African photographer Mikhael Subotzky and British artist Patrick Waterhouse concerned with a single Johannesburg building: Ponte City.

“Some of these stories are actually true (…). And yet, one is left with the feeling that even the building’s notoriety is somewhat exaggerated — that its decline is just as fictional as its initial utopian intentions were misplaced and unrealized.”

Mikhael Subotzky et Patrick Waterhouse

Ponte City has been the symbol of prosperity under apartheid and white supremacy, of the collapse of the city center in the 1990s, and finally of the multi-ethnic renewal in this new century: it has witnessed the throes of a never-ending changing society. During five years, Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse investigated the tower’s various and sometimes contradictory dimensions. By the accumulation of signs, their work has been slowly made up by layers, strata, only then to be included in a long process. As a culmination of this immersion, the exhibition confronts various stories: historical data (maps, brochures, press clippings…), images and vernacular texts which have been abandoned by generations of migrant, recurring architectural elements of the 40 floors, characters who give the tower a voice, poetic scenes of daily life.

Ponte city ok 17 medium
Mikhael Subotzky, & Patrick Waterhouse, Ponte City, 2008-2013 © Magnum Photos

“Today life in Ponte goes on, as ordinary and extraordinary as life anywhere else. But the building is still enveloped in contending projections. It remains a focal point of the city’s dreams and nightmares, seen as refuge or monstrosity, dreamland or dystopia, a lightning rod for a society’s hopes and fears, and always a beacon to navigate by.”

Ivan Vladislavic

18 Montmartre Zoom in 18 Montmartre Zoom out

6, impasse de la Défense

75018 Paris

T. 01 44 70 75 50


Place de Clichy

Opening hours

Wednesday – Sunday, noon – 7 PM
Late night on Wednesday until 8 PM
Fermeture de l’exposition à 18h les jours de BAL LAB

Admission fee

Full rate €8.00 — Concessions €6.00

The artists

  • Mikhael Subotzky
  • Patrick Waterhouse