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Born: 1962 02 01


BArch 1986 (Witwatersrand)

Born in Johannesburg, trained as an architect at Wits & Staedelschule Frankfurt under Prof Peter Cook – Archigram.

Leon Krige is a photographer and an architect who documents urban and natural topography. He lectures architectural theory and design at the University of Johannesburg, previously at Universities of Witwatersrand and Pretoria in South Africa, using nocturnal high resolution photography to further research projects about cities.

He has been photographing cities, textures and plant morphology since the early 1980s. Initially using medium format analogue film for printing on vintage black and white paper, with occasional contact prints, he documented Johannesburg and Cape Town in detail since 1983. The medium format camera is a timeous process based tool which requires inverted composition in a glass plate, with a hand held light meter & manual focus, before exposing and subsequently processing film according to the experience of each place, circumstance and phenomenon.

The use of composite images with a basic digital camera and a single quality lens, joined together to achieve high resolution panoramic works started with documentation of the world cup soccer stadiums in the same cities.

This exploration of cities using a consistent, obsessive technique to reveal the generic fabric of place, the largest body of work documents Johannesburg, but more recently the method has been used to explore other cities in transition, such as Cape Town, Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro as cities of work and play.

The use of a long telescopic lens to capture many high res images, manually focused & exposed, are stitched together after precise individual processing of files, often with an element of unpredictable outcome. A single photograph may take an hour to expose, during which time elements or light may shift, yet the urban landscape is revealed in very precise detail, as if an alien observer is scanning critical regions to reveal the maximum information. The long lens focuses on specific details, but remains aware of peripheral context, like the wide view of the insects' composite eye.

Alternatively, a classic perspective shift lens keeps verticals aligned, shifting gear across the field of view during multiple exposures to hold a precise point of view, for stitching highly tectonic spatial images of cities.

Like the composite eye of an insect, the use of multiple images reveal detail beyond that which a single image, or even the human eye, can discern from a single point of view. Human figures are almost invisible in most images, but their traces are felt in open windows, coloured curtains and endless satellite dishes. The topography and metamorphosis of cities are explored from high vantage points, often at night, to investigate layers of history, expansion and decay. The colour spectrum of different light temperatures is revealed by multiple high resolution exposures, such as sodium orange for infrastructure and control, cool halide for event space, warm incandescent for intimacy of single apartments, or the ultraviolet of a television screen behind curtains.

(Submitted by William MARTINSON February 2015)

For CV in PDF format with photographs click here.

Visit the Leon Krige website.

Photographs on this site by Leon Krige

Soccer City
Lebone II College - Hall and Refectory
Lebone II College - Teachers' Houses
Lebone II College - Boarding House
11 Diagonal Street

Entries in books by KRIGE

Kriger, Leon F . Craft - In defence of a beautiful skin. In Capetown Stadium. 2010. Griffel