All posts tagged: South Africa

Show: 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.

2017-08-07T12:06:00+00:00

Ones to Watch: Kristin Lee Moolman

Casting from the street and creating near-future looks, South African photographer Kristin Lee Moolman is creating “a new African mythology”, say her fans, which has already featured in an exhibition at Somerset House, and in fashion magazines such as Vogue

2017-06-15T11:26:00+00:00

Q&A: Roger Ballen’s new show The Theatre of Apparitions

The photographer of the psyche, Roger Ballen, is in London to show his latest work, The Theatre of Apparitions, the first time he’s exhibited the series. Based in South Africa since the early 1980’s, the New York-born photographer has worked in photography for over thirty years, starting with ‘straight’ documentary but latterly moving into more abstract forms representing the relationship between human and beast, and harking back to the ancient shamanistic visions and symbols which he believes are embedded in us all.  The Theatre of Apparitions is inspired by hand-drawn carvings he saw on blacked-out windows in a women’s prison in South Africa. “The images occupy a perceptual realm – a fragmented world of part – objects where fears of annihilation and chaotic perceptions merge reality and fantasy, self and other,” says Ballen. “These silhouettes are flickering archetypes originating from the collective unconscious of human kind.” BJP: This work is quite different to what you have done before, what inspired it? RB: At the beginning of 2005, I was making a video in a women’s prison in South Africa, in Johannesburg. I went into one of the cells, and …

2017-03-22T13:05:44+00:00

Visual conversations with the world of the occult

“The project is about the traces the ‘invisible world’ leaves on our world,” says 36-year-old Virginie Rebetez. “I don’t like the word ‘witchcraft’ – it has bad connotations. In Europe, we are afraid of people who communicate with the invisible world, but there are many ways of explaining events. I am also fascinated by the South African imagery that relates to this world of ‘spirits’ and the way in which characters and animals feature in rituals.” Born in Lausanne, Rebetez worked on the project two years ago during a four-month residency in South Africa organised by Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council. “I’m interested in the invisible world in general – how we communicate with it, what it is and so on. Johannesburg is not an easy place to arrive and work in by yourself, especially if you are white and working on this kind of subject. But through the residency I met people who helped me.” Rebetez, one of 10 emerging photographers selected to exhibit at last year’s Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography, met with experts in …

2015-10-13T14:55:20+00:00

VIDEO: Roger Ballen – Outland

The New York photographer Roger Ballen has spent decades photographing the most extreme fringes of South African society. But this is not a documentary project, but a dark cavity into our collective psychology. “I started to work with the subjects in a theatrical, performative way,” Ballen says in our exclusive video interview. “I was there to transform reality.” Ballen is a hugely contentious figure in South Africa. Making his home there in the early eighties, Ballen began to provide the world with powerfully provocative portraits of marginalised, poverty-stricken communities – an uncomfortable reminder of the failings of the Apartheid system. Ballen was at first rooted in the socio-documentary tradition. But then he began to evolve. His photographs began to step beyond the role of witness into a complex portrayal of documentary fiction.  Here, poor whites, transplanted to the cities, take on theatrical role-plays within the pictures, acting out their position as social outsiders in an interplay with Ballen’s own symbolistic leanings. Removed from any established use-value as social documentation, the disturbing photographs ask uncomfortable questions of the viewer. As …

2015-05-07T11:56:43+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

BJP Staff