Latitudes presents a never-before-seen selection of portraits by Billy Monk, Cape Town’s almost mythical 1960s photographer
The UNSEEN Selection will be available exclusively on Latitudes. The works, which will be available in two sizes each, will be sold online at a limited launch price during a timed sale from 14-18 July. Thereafter they will be available at full price.
Who was Billy Monk?
Billy Monk worked as a bouncer in 1960s Cape Town. Armed with a camera, he also managed to photograph inside the club, The Catacombs. Housing revellers of all creeds and colours, this dockside spot illustrated both forms of the word 'underground'. His access to this cross-section of society allowed him to photograph scenes of uncensored joy, passion and debauchery not often associated with apartheid-era South Africa.
A decade later, Paul Gordon, who had once shared a studio space with Monk, handed the meticulously labelled negatives to photographer Jac de Villiers. Intrigued by what he saw and with David Goldblatt on board too, an exhibition was staged at The Market Gallery in Johannesburg in 1982, with Monk's blessing. The show was a critical success and Billy Monk took leave from his job as a diamond diver in the north of the country's shoreline, to attend. A pit-stop in Cape Town along the way, however, proved to be the full stop in Monk's story. He was shot dead in a drunken argument. His photographs, though, live on and continue to give the world a rare glimpse into this period in Cape Town's history. The story of Billy Monk and his short life, well-lived, has become somewhat of a myth over the decades.
Virtual Talk: Meet the Curators
To launch the show, curators of the selection, Craig Cameron-Mackintosh and Gavin Furlonger of the Billy Monk Collection, will be giving a virtual talk on Wednesday 14 July, at 6pm SAST. The curators will discuss the Billy Monk Collection, as well as their curation of UNSEEN.