Winner: Lebohang Kganye
Ke sale teng confronts how family photo albums no longer have a fixed narrative, but instead, opens us to reinterpret our past. Perhaps this kind of reinterpretation is an interrogation of our need to preserve a certain narrative. Photo albums are arranged as if to tell life stories and testimonies and build identities, however, the image is never ‘complete’ – we are only presented with visual clues that allow our own imagination to further ‘complete’ the story. The more I research my family history, it becomes apparent that family history remains a space of contradictions – it is a mixture of truth and fiction. Sometimes we rely on the family photo album as a way to understand what family is meant to be. What we often land up with is a grouping of images that have been constructed, and perhaps do not account at all for the histories and memories that are connected with that album. Through the use of silhouette cut-outs of family members and other props in a diorama, the film confronts the conflicting stories which are told in multiple ways – memory combined with fantasy. Such archives do not reveal easy answers, for me, they reveal that time can break apart and reconnect and not quite fit back into one another.
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Lebohang Kganye is an artist living and working in Johannesburg. Kganye received her introduction to photography at the Market Photo Workshop in 2009 and completed the Advanced Photography Programme in 2011. She also completed her Fine Arts studies at the University of Johannesburg in 2016 and forms a new generation of contemporary South African photographers. Although primarily a photographer, Kganye’s photography often incorporates her interest in sculpture and performance. Over the past six years, she has participated in photography master classes and group exhibitions locally and internationally. Kganye was the recipient of the Tierney Fellowship Award in 2012, leading to her exhibition Ke Lefa Laka. She created an animation from the series, which was launched on Mandela Day 2014 in Scotland, entitled Pied Piper’s Voyage. Kganye was then selected as the Featured Artist for the 17th Business and Arts South Africa Awards in 2014. She was also awarded the Jury Prize at the Bamako Encounters Biennale of African Photography in 2015. Kganye’s work forms part of several private and public collections, most notably the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pennsylvania and the Walther Collection in Ulm.
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Runner-up: Sthenjwa Hopewell Luthuli
We are challenged to adapt and survive in a society that is constantly changing. This work, in particular, reflects the cultural politics with regards to the traditional Zulu rituals and customs within the contemporary family setting. There are specific traditional sacrifices implemented in order for an individual to claim their identity from their father’s side. However, this may affect the relationship between the two families and create conflict if the proper cultural rituals aren’t performed accordingly. Looking back at the prehistoric eras, within the Nguni cultural procedures, this tradition was formally organised through a bartering system. Here cattle played a vital component when family members were to demand their identities. The majority couldn’t meet the required amount of livestock which then further created massive debts for the upcoming generations, as they could not by traditional laws, request their rightful cultural identities. The piece I submitted titled Umbango is constructed in an aesthetically pleasing technique, yet on the contrary, contains really complex subjects in terms of their content. Umbango ultimately means ‘conflict’, and in this instance, it is domestic contradictions inside traditional Zulu contemporary family methods.
Sthenjwa was born in Bothas Hill in 1991 and attended Thornwood secondary school. In 2010, he joined Visual Art classes at the BAT Centre and says that these classes familiarised him with the industry of art, and encouraged him to further explore and develop his creativity. As a result of his dedication, commitment and talent he was selected to further take part in the Velobala mentorship programme in 2012. This exposed Sthenjwa to a more extensive Visual Art course in a formal environment, at the department of Fine Art at the Durban University of Technology. Sthenjwa was mentored by Themba Shibase, artist and lecturer at the Department of Fine Art at the Durban University of Technology. Sthenjwa is inspired by a number of artists including, Wangechi Mutu, Owusu Ankomah and Yinka Shonibare. Since 2011 he has participated in a number of group exhibitions in KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg. In 2012 he further participated in various exhibitions in Bremen, Germany and completed a mural project in the Concordia Tunnel, which runs along the collections and in the international collection of the Leiterin der stadtischen Galerie in Bremen Germany.
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Merit Award: Francke Gretchen Crots
The ceramic book represents the severity of the human body and anatomy in a less severe way. The artworks play on the futility of the human existence and how a subject of such serious matter can seem of little importance when looked at from a subjective point of view. The book depicts how the human body can be seen and interpreted as an object in our day and age. With references to medical and scientific facts about the human body, the essence of “human” comes off as irrelevant and sometimes, even as a joke. The goal of the book is the realisation of the human and its rather small impact and role in society and on earth, the human is reminded that it is replaceable, disposable and unimportant – just like an object being made fun of.
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Merit Award: Goitseone Bothlale Moerane
My mixed media artworks explore my identity as a modern black female in the Tswana culture. My works usually consist of subjective explorations which juxtapose my appreciation of my culture and my black feminist criticism of it simultaneously. I use a combination of photographic cut-outs, digital manipulation and an addition of the Shweshwe cloth as the main aspect of this multimedia style to comment on the violence and oppression against black women throughout history, and how it has culminated in various feelings of perplexity – resulting in my problematic identity construction. In self-depreciating moments, I have seen myself as some kind of an internally bred comprador, a kind of collaborator laundered through white structures from pre-school, high school to university and then completely displaced when having to claim my heritage. While I do love and respect my heritage, there are aspects of it I cannot tolerate, specifically the cultural patriarchy and gender prejudice. I used the Shweshwe cloth as a metaphor for what the black woman is expected to be; a mother, a wife or makoti, a provider, a domestic as well as a good daughter in law.
The Shweshwe cloth is usually worn by women in cultural and domestic settings such as weddings, funerals, traditional ceremonies and rituals. It is for this reason that I have replaced the women’s bodies with the cloth, as it represents what was expected of women and what they were taught to aspire to be. My work is immensely personal. I cut out bodies of women I am related to out of old family photographs. Cutting them out is significant as I release the sort of disappointment I have in them for being submissive. I also cut out their bodies as an act of inflicting violence onto these bodies just as historically, black women’s bodies have been subject to objectification, demonisation and violence. Black South African women are chained by a triple yoke of oppression. Under apartheid, each component of their existence as women; their sex, their colour and their class combine to negate their right to social inequality. This body of work is titled Mosadi o tswara thipa ka bogaleng which means that a woman holds a knife by the blade. This is a bleak reality for black women.
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Merit Award: Carol Anne Preston
This installation is a mechanism and a stand composed of various metal shavings. The cocoon has a beckoning and attractive tactility which harbours and emits a hidden violence, as its shuddering suggests a life form within. The fact that it is hung at eye level, as well as at an angle, adds to the discomfort as it sheds pieces of its contents from time to time. The cocoon is an essential protective stage in the metamorphosis of an unidentified insect. This installation is a response to the present volatility and revolutionary change in South Africa.
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Merit Award: Emily Harriet Bülbring Robertson
These works are two of a series of 11 inventions, products and stratagems I have created. It is aimed to give their users the appearance of conforming to existing gender stereotypes pertaining to the roles of women, whilst actually allowing them to live a life of their own choosing. These ideas are articulated through the media of collage and print. This project is indirectly subversive as it deals with appearance and fakery. By selecting the specific materials and methodologies, as well as using satire and humour, I have managed to impose certain female stereotypes. This is done by performing the roles that society deems ladylike – satisfying those who are intent on ensuring women do what they are ‘supposed’ to. This piece of work seeks loopholes within gender roles and their performance. This creates a perception of fulfilling one’s feminine duties, without actually having to perform them. This highlights the absurdity of outdated notions in Western society, whilst also communicating my personal discontent and uneasiness of navigating what our society defines as normal. This project and these works are me, trying to be an acceptable woman in our society… but failing.
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Merit Award: Cara-Jo Tredoux
This work is about the old Kempton Park abandoned and haunted hospital. I was fascinated by the hospital as it was abandoned 20 years ago without a trace as to why it happened. There are patient files and x-rays that still haunt the shelves and hospital equipment which still stands forgotten. The beauty of it all is that in the beginning there were only grass fields and trees. Then man came along to develop the grounds, yet as soon as man left, nature came back and restored itself. Although people have left the hospital there is still a sense of life which wanders through the halls, wards and theatres. It is not just the plants, but also ‘the others’ who have never left the hospital… Some parts are sanded down to create a fading effect emphasising the rawness of the wood which symbolises the unfinished business of those who wander through the halls.