Nonzuzo Gxekwa, wanderer in bree (detail), 2019
Yenza Kwenzeke is a collaborative photography project that investigates ideas around contemporary African photography in relation to documentary photography. The main focus of the project is a collaboration between black female photographers – Lebogang Tlhako and Nonzuzo Gxekwa – who explore notions of land, landscape and identity in their countries and the challenges of documentary photography in all contexts. The photographers come from a photojournalist and documentary background and need to challenge these traditions through their project and detach their photographs from the conventions of documentary photography. The exhibition aims to demonstrate the questionable authority that photographers have always relied on – that a camera allows photographers to step into communities and situations, taking a look and also stepping back to reflect and comment. “Through this project, we aim to challenge our own insecurities with our practices and the spaces we encounter. The project will potentially allow the photographers to find new ways of documenting spaces they are not familiar with. Through this project I aim to show how contemporary documentary photography has become more complex than simply using a camera as a piece of recording technology,” explains curator Fulufhelo.
“Through the exhibition I, as a woman/female endeavour to engage Africa’s history of documentary photography, whilst concurrently engaging the complex and dynamic aspects of contemporary land and landscape social discourse in Africa, as well as the shift in how contemporary photography has captured these spaces. The exhibition will produce a vital archive on an important subject, the changing social landscapes, that remains pivotal to the world’s challenges in environment, resources economies and historical legacies.”
Contemporary photography in Africa has shifted from street photography to become more conceptual in both its subject matter and style such as the work “Somnyama Ngonyama” a photographic series by Zanele Muholi which brings a different aesthetic to documentary photography. This is a huge contrast to how male photographers are working in across Africa which still most focuses on hard stories and social issues. Being black and female has been in the spotlight in recent years. Many industries are taking on the advancement of black women and highlighting the strengths they have and all their achievements. “First black female” has catapulted the way in which we speak about black women, how they are taking on new titles and their ever shifting roles in “all men” industries.
Yenza Kwenzeke is a photographic exhibition for emerging black female photographers in Southern African and East African countries. The title is coined from the Zulu saying which means “making things happen” and is used in this context, to describe women who have taken their photographic practice and used to create new and re-imagined conceptual works of art. The women selected for this exhibition can use the theme as broadly as possible and can create artwork that visually represent how women in photography have been able to and continue to tell the stories of their lived experiences. The Yenza Kwenzeke exhibition is aimed at showcasing talented and emerging black female photographers creating contemporary art in the African landscape many of whom have not showcased on an international level. The exhibition will showcase the new ways in which female photographers speak about themselves and their environments and owning the narrative.