The Image Is Our Voice
A collaboration with Through The Lens Collective
Curated by Els van Mourik
20 March - 18 April 2021
Amira Shariff, Anna Sango, Dewald Bruwer, Hazel Mphande, Katlisho Tleane, Thandolwemfundo Ngidi, Rochelle Nembhard, Simphiwe Majozi and Tshepo Moloi.
Through the Lens Collective is a collaborative educational and developmental photographic space created by South African visual artists and educators who share a commitment to, and appreciation of, the photographic medium on the African continent.
In this body of work Amira’s photographs explores the endless phases of deconstruction, disruption and re-discovery of her physical and mental self during the first year of the Covid-19 lockdown. Having moved away from home, being separated from her ordinary life felt like sitting in a silent noise, which is reflected in these images through their dream-like state. With the current state of the world, people have been forced into a more sedentary lifestyle, confronted with their thoughts and emotions. No longer able to ignore what makes them uncomfortable, people have had to become more introspective and recognise the common human frailty of beings with shifting psyches and emotions, heavily influenced psyches and emotions, heavily influenced by surroundings and circumstances.
Katlisho uses photography as a means of self- expression, creating introspective work to better understand his life experiences and the reality he lives in. Growing up in the social setting of a small village, he had an idealised idea of how the world worked only to be frustrated with the harshness of its reality. Katlisho’s work reflects his own position within a shifting but unchanging landscape, and a representation of his layered and geographically scattered sense of home, characterised by a questioning of one’s belonging, a persistent feeling of displacement, of not quite fitting into a space – an experience shared by many of his peers and generations before them.
The colliding tensions that arise between woman and state through patriarchal suppression, control, and commodification are inherently linked to that of the natural world, for one cannot exist without the other. Both woman and nature are the generative forces of this planet. To kill one is to kill the other. To deny one is to deny the other. It is through this denial that causes separation in the human psyche — that all of humanity suffers.
‘Subtle Bodies’ is an ongoing exploration of relationships between memory, displacement and ‘un-belonging’. The work reflects on her experiences as a migrant of mixed racial heritage, having moved to South Africa with her mother at the age of two. The double exposed and disjointed photographs reflect the tensions of navigating one’s identity between transnational, and local, locations that can never quite be ‘home’ and the feelings of displacement that cloud her everyday experiences.
Hazel’s work focuses on the portrayal of one’s body, identity and the abstract representation of nature. Her work is characterised by the use of long shutter speed and double-exposure, using blur to create a sense of movement and transition. These photographs embody a temporal wane of fleeting experiences, memory, growth and decay and begins to mimic the shape-shifting apparitions of recollection and reminiscence of transition.
Working within the public domain, Dewald Bruwer’s intention has never been to contribute to any social commentary but to instead be influenced by his environment. Without being concept-driven, Dewald works intuitively allowing his work to reveal aspects of himself as well as the complexities of human existence; finding that anything truly personal becomes universal.
In Between is an introspective conversation about the transition into parenthood and a critical engagement with the concept of domesticity and masculinity; a simultaneous questioning, defining and redefining of something that was never discussed between my father and me.
Thandolwe’s images are a visual representation of a complex and layered headspace, an attempt to grasp what he failed to make sense of at the
time. His work serves to map the surreal landscape of his mind, to preserve details of significance that may be overlooked in an outsider’s observation of this liminal experience.
Simphiwe’s images operate in this world and in the metaphysical place where our ancestors are watching over us. His work illustrates the Isizulu tradition of Inhlambululo, a ceremony performed after the death of a relative whereby clothing and heirlooms are passed down to specifically chosen members of the family. Ancestors are considered active members of a community who still guide the living and the inherited belongings act as conduit for communication between the living and the deceased. Simphiwe’s work reflects the continuous growth of the community and the strength of the connections between past and present.
When I began photography there was no specific intention with the work which was being created, then as time went on, while I was researching on the history of African photography and its archival, there was a realization and pattern that, I can bring awareness by using the medium as a tool and language to bridge communication within our communities and also to forge unity and relations.