All posts tagged: black

Zanele Muholi’s Somnyama Ngonyama – Hail the Dark Lioness

“I’m reclaiming my blackness, which I feel is continuously performed by the privileged other,” says South African photographer Zanele Muholi. Born in 1972 in Umlazi, a township close to Durban, Muholi defines herself as a visual activist using photography to articulate contemporary identity politics. In her latest series, Somnyama Ngonyama: Hail the Dark Lioness, she uses her body to confront the politics of race and representation, questioning the way the black body is shown and perceived.

2018-07-12T14:28:33+00:00

Codes of living for a black man in township South Africa

“He’s a a typical black gangster,” Sipho Gongxeka says. “Rings, cigarette, dark-skinned, and with a dope-ass suit.” Sipho breaks into peels of laughter. The 24-year-old South African, who grew up on a Soweto township, is describing an image from his series Skeem’ Saka of a black man – his friend, it turns out – with bleached hair and a dapper double-breasted suit, smoke curling from his fingers, a separate chunk of precious metal on each. Gongxeka, a former making-it footballer for South Africa’s lower leagues, identifies himself as a ‘fashion-documentary’ photographer. For motivation, he does not look much further than the streets of Soweto. Gongxeka’s photographs are meditations, he says, on the “circular relationship” between the reality of black male life in township South Africa, mediated images of black culture (and how often they are associated with remorseless violence) and the insinuations of clothes. “A certain dress code does not necessarily accompany a certain mode of behaviour or personality,” he says. Skeem’ Saka loosely translates as ‘Homeboys in the Township,’ an attempt, Gongxeka says, to capture relationships that go beyond friendship.  His …

2015-08-24T12:18:57+00:00

“Ma’am, could you back up please? Could you give him some air?”

BJP

When I started thinking about this article, my focus was set to be on Oscar Grant, the 22-year-old black Californian who was shot to death — while unarmed, and held face down — by a white transit cop on New Year’s Day, 2009. The fictionalised story of Grant’s final day was turned into an award-winning film, Fruitvale Station. It’s a powerful work, confidently directed by first-timer Ryan Coogler, and it boasts a moving turn from Michael B. Jordan as the tragic Grant. Fruitvale Station is notable for opening with real, raw cameraphone footage of the incident, sourced from one of the many bystanders who made use of lightweight, mobile technology to capture this instance of appalling institutional dysfunction. This directorial choice casts a dark shadow over the remainder of the film, and seems to acknowledge the importance of authenticity over fictional reconstruction. It’s a bold move from a young filmmaker making his “calling card” picture, but it reflects a key truth at the heart of the matter: Oscar’s slaying was one of the first such …

2015-04-17T18:47:41+00:00

BJP Staff