Human Stories: A YOUNG SOUTH AFRICA
11 October – 19 November 2023
This October, NOW Gallery on London’s Greenwich Peninsula will present its 2023 edition of the gallery’s annual Human Stories exhibition series, spotlighting some of the most exciting names in photography. Human Stories has cemented its reputation as one of the most exciting showcases of international photography talent in the world, having previously exhibited artists like Stephen Tayo, Thandiwe Muriu, Nadine Ijewere, Charlotte Colbert and more.
Open to the public between 11 October – 19 November, this year’s Human Stories spotlights South African photography, bringing together six photographers documenting the diverse culture of their home nation, framed by a complex and sometimes turbulent political, socio-economic and cultural landscape. The artists included are Bee Diamondhead, Fede Kortez, Aart Verrips, Nikki Zakkas, Anita Hlazo, Ben Moyo and Karabo Mooki.
As South Africa faces a continuous decline in basic services like clean water and rapidly rising youth unemployment, the country’s young generation ‘Ama2000s’ are boldly and irreverently injecting a fresh creative energy into the global cultural scene through visual culture, music, and fashion. 50 years after the Soweto student uprisings and 30 years into the new South African democracy, NOW Gallery features six photographic diegeses, surveying South African cities.
The six chosen artists capture the creative empowerment through artistic provocation, individualism, and authorship through a lens of youth-subcultural movements.In Afro Grunge, fashion designer and stylist Anita Hlazo situates her lens in Nyanga, a township in the Western Cape and Cape Town.
Cross-cultural approaches characterise the Ama2000s (GenZ) aesthetic. Her evolving style and identity of a Black ‘Alternative’ presenting girl mixes pop and grunge subcultures. Piercings, tattoos, and platformed boots express the unapologetically creative ‘goth girl’. Hlazo’s portraits are contextualised by the built environment and communities of her township (Ekasi).
Island Gals by Karabo Mooki is a photo-documentation of the lives of “Island Gals” a skateboarding community, made up of a tightly knit crew of Black women and queer identities based in Johannesburg and Soweto. The young women in this series are pushing borders, and gaining greater recognition within skateboarding by reclaiming their right to appear in the places they skate. The collective are declaring the right to protest to South Africa’s tumultuous history of gender-based violence.
Fede Kortez’s Cape Town Vibes captures vibrant portraits imbued with saturated colour, typified by th Bo-Kaap and Woodstock neighbourhoods in Cape Town. The vibrant Bo-Kaap houses, celebrate the district’s Muslim identity and have been historically painted by the Cape Malays in celebration of Eid. Kortez seeks to convey the aesthetic energies of these areas as well as capturing a Pan African pride and connection to people he photographs.
Johannesburg based photographer; Nikki Zakkas co-creates the narratives of the people she photographs. She captures a diverse cast of 5 young people within environments that are significant to those individuals. The images are populated by symbolic clues to their personalities and cultural backgrounds. Zakkas is keen to share cultural richness, diversity, and pride through a vibrant tapestry of experiences.
In Back to the Soil, Bee Diamondhead celebrates the beauty, softness and vulnerability of 3 queer male musicians, debunking cultural stereotypes of the South African music industry. Diamondhead critiques perpetual toxic masculinity and acknowledges that her country South Africa has the no1 gender-based violence rate in the world. Her nudes are painted with elemental coloured clays and earth.
Curator Kaia Charles: “’We are thrilled to feature exceptional South African talent in sharing their creativity through lived experiences. The show will reflects a fresh creative agency that embodies the evocative music culture, distinct sense of identity, and political articulation of the young people of South Africa.”
The sitters engage in ‘a ritual of remoulding’ themselves, ‘channeling back with the soil or giving back to it’. The portraits sit in dialogue with mirroring figurative sculptural forms. For My Liewe Land [My Great Land (Afrikaans)] photographer Aart Verrips, reimagines ‘the rainbow nation’ through self -expression, featuring a collective of individuals who are driving the culture. Verrips explores the intersection of music, performance, and fashion through subcultural movements like Amapiano and vivid vogue nights.
©2023 NOW Gallery
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