One aspect of Culture Art Society (CAS) is unearthing and highlighting the intellectual and artistic labour of African thinkers. Could you name a few thinkers whose work is now more important than ever?
CULTURE ART SOCIETY (CAS):
I think all of those recommended in question 6 and shared on CAS’s Instagram platform over the many years are as important today as they were yesteryear. These thinkers continue to generously offer how to read and map an intervention of today. We are also witnessing a profound buzz of young thinkers, with and without public acclaim, who reminds us that these conversations and frameworks of thoughts have always been important.
Lebohang Kganye is a Johannesburg based South African photographer whose work explores a reimagining and reintervention into archives, particularly that of her own family. Memory, history and the questioning of both are central to an artistic framework which she calls “fictional history”. She received her introduction to photography at the Market Photo Workshop, in Johannesburg, in 2009 and completed the Advanced Photography Programme in 2011. She obtained a Diploma in Fine Arts from the University of Johannesburg in 2014 and is currently doing her Masters in Fine Arts at the Witwatersrand University. Kganye forms part of a new generation of artists from South Africa whose work reflects deeply on the country’s historical continuum. She has exhibited her work extensively within curated group
exhibitions and biennales. Her notable awards include the Paulo Cunha e Silva Art Prize, 2020, Camera Austria Award, 2019 and the finalist of the Rolex Mentor & Protégé Arts Initiative, 2019.
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Ke Lefa Laka / Her-story, Lebohang Kganye, 2020:
"Ten years ago I lost my mother; her death sparked the need to trace my ancestral roots. I needed to locate myself in the wider family on some level and perhaps also to explore the possibility of keeping a connection with her. The idea of ‘the ghost’ started to emerge in my work. In my journey I began looking for pieces of my mother in the house. I found many photos and clothes which had always been there but which I had ignored over the years. There she was smiling and posing in these clothes. My reconnection with her became a visual manipulation of ‘her-our’ histories. I began inserting myself into her pictorial narrative by emulating these snaps of her from my family album. I would dress in the exact clothes that she was wearing in these twenty- year-old photographs and mimic the same poses. This was my way of marrying the two memories (mine and of my mother). I later developed digital photomontages where I juxtaposed old photographs of my mother retrieved from the family archives with photographs of a ‘present version of her’ - me, to reconstruct a new story and a commonality – she is me, I am her and there remains in this commonality so much difference, and so much distance in space and time. I realised that I was scared that I was beginning to forget what my mother looked like, what she sounded like, and her defining gestures. The photomontages became a substitute for the paucity of memory, a forged identification and imagined conversation.
I am not sure if I ‘know’ my mother any better, but this project seemed to connect three generations of women in my family: my grandmother (as the narrator of family memories), my mother as the object of study, me and my younger sister (who assisted in pressing the shutter on these restaged photographs) as receptors of this history and its makers as well."