New Documents

© Billy Monk, Courtesy of Michael Stevenson, Cape Town.

Billy Monk

Exhibition: BPB Curated: New Ways of Looking

Billy Monk, worked in Cape Town as a nightclub bouncer for Les Catacombs Club during the 1960s. He was an elusive figure; as a result many myths surround his life. Using a Pentax camera with 35mm focal-length lens he photographed the nightclub revellers, not to make a social statement but to make some extra money. His naïve style and intimate relationship with the subjects allowed him to capture the decadence, tragedy, humanity and joy of the period in a completely unique way.

Billy Monk, worked in Cape Town as a nightclub bouncer for Les Catacombs Club during the 1960s. He was an elusive figure; as a result many myths surround his life. Using a Pentax camera with 35mm focal-length lens he photographed the nightclub revellers, not to make a social statement but to make some extra money. His naïve style and intimate relationship with the subjects allowed him to capture the decadence, tragedy, humanity and joy of the period in a completely unique way.

In 1969 Monk stopped taking photographs at the club. Ten years later his work was discovered, in three seemingly abandoned files lying in a studio by Jac de Villiers, who recognised his raw talent.


Monk’s work was first exhibited in 1982 at the Market Gallery in Johannesburg; unfortunately Monk could not make the opening as he was diving for diamonds off the Port Nolloth coast. Two weeks later he was shot dead during an argument over moving furniture on his way to see the show.

Billy Monk’s images courtesy of the Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town.
 

Links

www.michaelstevenson.com