With the constant cacophony around us, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and loadshedding, we are drowning in the noise and our mental well-being is compromised. Creating time and space for silence, quietness has become a priority, a few of us can afford. In 2022, whilst in a residency in the Netherlands, during the height of the pandemic, I found myself alone and isolated. For the first time, I had a studio which was different from my practice in South Africa where I normally worked in the streets surrounded by people. This heightened the feeling of isolation and loneliness and I had to find a new way to work. Questions about isolation, aloneness, and how it affects one’s practice occupied my mind. I asked myself, do artists, especially photographers, seek solitude? Using the medium of photography, Ukuzimamela looks at contemporary photographers Bongeka Ngcobo, Kgotlelelo Bradley Sekiti, Nadia Ettwein, Simphiwe Thabede, Tshepo Moloi, and Thembinkosi Hlatshawyo who seek to explore this vast subject in their practice in different ways. The exploration by these photographers in solitude has led to ways to regenerate and find a sense of self through their lens.
In “Pass Me Over”, Bongeka is lying on the ground in a fœtal position reminding us of a baby in their mother’s womb, our first place of solitude. There is a mystery with the faces hidden away from the viewer. Kgotlelelo’s “They have been here before”, reminds us of our need for safety and connectedness. In African spirituality the mask and caves are sacred. The cave being a place of shelter, where we go to connect with our ancestors, the mask, an object that connects the human spirit with the spiritual world. The naked body gives a sense of vulnerability, of surrendering, almost stripped of everything. In the wide deserted streets, Tshepo’s “In Search” and Simphiwe’s “Finding my way”, there is a deep sense of wandering, searching for something, the mood is sombre and lonely. Nadia’s “Blossoms” speak of a time that has passed, a longing of sorts, trying to preserve what was - there is a sense of warmth from the light. Remnants of human presence are felt in Thembinkosi’s Slaghuis (untitled13), a tilted chair on the ground, usually used for sitting, rest, relaxation yet in Thembinkosi’s image it evokes rage, and unsettling emotions.
Artwork above: Bongeka Ngcobo, Pass Me Over, Archival Ink Print on Cotton Rag, 841 cm x 118,9 cm (Unframed), 2019, R11,000.00 ex. VAT, Edition 8 + 1AP
Kgotlelelo Bradley Sekiti, They have been here before, 2020, Digital Print on 100% Cotton Fine Art Paper, 21 x 29,7 cm (Unframed), R 3,000.00 ex. VAT, Edition 6 + 1AP
A self-taught photographer based in Johannesburg. Nonzuzo Gxekwa's work explores the human condition in subtle and beautiful ways. Curiosity has led to this path of exploring curation as a way to understand the world around her. History, Identity, are some of her interests.
Thembinkosi Hlatshwayo, Untitled 5 (Slaghuis II), 2019, Inkjet on Archival Paper. 20 cm x 30 cm (Unframed), R 30,000.00 ex. VAT, Edition of 7+2 AP
Nadia Ettwein, Hello Pretty Boy, 2022, Digital Photograph on Ilford Art Paper, 30 cm x 42 cm (Unframed), Edition 5 + 2 AP, R 3,200.00 ex. VAT
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