The experience of African immigrants living in South Africa has previously been portrayed through images of violence, deportation and police brutality. Local photographer, Sydelle Willow Smith, attempts to challenge these visual stereotypes in her exhibition Soft Walls (the show runs till April 2nd at The Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg), by depicting everyday scenes that, seemingly, we should all be able to relate to.
The Fader (yes, they’re still around) has been putting up a series of posts from Johannesburg (Obey You Collective: South Africa) that focuses on “artists, trail-blazers, and bright young talents from South Africa.” (The series is paid for by soft drink company Coco Cola.) Much of it seems to be filmed around the part of the city marketed as Maboneng. In the latest instalment, they published an interview with Tarryn Alberts, part of dance crew, V.I.N.T.A.G.E. (If you remember, Zach Rosen interviewed them for AIAC, here). Anyway, the interview includes this illuminating passage about the Catch 22 for young black people after Apartheid:
I love the way that Nigerian photographer Akinbode Akinbiyi works. I mean his approach to photography and the way that he uses his camera. At least in the video below, he’s shooting with a Rollei Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) camera, using the sports finder. That immediately makes him one of my favorite photographers. I adore Rollei TLRs, and it’s tremendous fun to use the sports finder. The technique, like the camera itself, went out of fashion in the early ’60s, except among fans and eccentrics. (I’m both, I’ll admit.)
In a recent episode of his CNN “Parts Unknown,” the American chef and writer Anthony Bourdain traveled to South Africa. In my mind at least, this episode was long overdue and in fact, I’ve even said so on this blog in the past. The episode focuses on Gauteng Province (Johannesburg and Pretoria), signaling to a desire on the producers’ part to focus on emerging and predominantly urban black South African sensibilities and avoiding the pre-packaged, proto-European sensibilities and more superficially palatable aesthetics of Cape Town and the Western Cape altogether. The result is at once an imperfect and incomplete, yet compelling glimpse into one of the most complicated and confusing places in the world.