There are some scintillating overlaps in these shows. Goldblatt's includes a 1955 diptych of a black Johannesburg photographer making a plein air portrait, with a clunky, 19th-century-style camera, as well as pattern motifs in interiors and an advertising-circular lineup in the supermarket behind the swimsuit competition. The self-styled domestic spaces of Mthethwa's subjects are echoed in the fabricated identities of the "Retratos."
And in all three shows, there's the distinct play between subject and producer. It ranges across the spectrum, from the roving, critically selective gaze of the maverick photojournalist to the canny African art star to the aspirational Brazilian photo consumer. And yet, all three bodies of work ended up in white-cube art spaces in New York, a context that tends to flatten such distinctions. Which is where we come in. Because if we're looking actively rather than passively at these images, it's our responsibility to complete them.