Federico Clavarino (*Italy) is a photographer and teacher based in London. His series ‘Hereafter’ was inspired by his grandparent’s story, specifically them witnessing the decline of the British Empire. Clavarino explores the process of creating collective memory by recovering letters and photographs and following the path of his relatives through different countries. With these materials as a basis, he takes photographs, dives into conversations and reconstructs the family’s narrative, embedded in the colonial discourse. Clavarino’s work elaborates the Empire’s impact on today’s society and revolves around themes of power, history and representation.
Puleng Mongale is a South-African artist whose work is centred around the acknowledgement and celebration of black women and ancestry. It focuses on celebrating beauty where there is also pain, where black womanhood is concerned. The artist is also intrigued and inspired by the black aesthetic that is evident in choices of clothing and black homes.
Mongale’s digital collage work is a search for identity by means of internal dialogue revolving around a re-imagined history, the establishment and maintenance of ancestral relationships, aiming to (re)-claim her lost heritage. She finds that her collages, through self-portraiture, allow her to put together pieces of worlds she’s never been a part of and worlds that she’s trying to forge presently. The collage ‘Mosotho / The Women In Me’ shows the artist wearing a seshewshwe (a fabric which is mostly worn by South African Sotho women) paired with a matching doek. On the lookout for identity, self-portraiture allows the representation of Puleng’s Sotho heritage.
For more than ten years German artist Malte Wandel has been engaged in the history of Mozambican contract workers in the former GDR and their lives after the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The artist captured a photograph of the modern cement town of Maputo in Mozambique. It was constructed during the colonial period in the 1960s and 1970s to create a new reality for the white Portuguese population living in the city, showcasing the deeply rooted racism and racial segregation. The architecture was influenced by Art déco and has hence shaped the tropical modernism and the unique style in Mozambique.
Paul Shemisi is a documentary filmmaker and photographer living and working in Kinshasa. Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is where he shoots his photos and documentaries, too. He wishes to show unknown parts of the city to the whole world. For him, art consists in the fusion of street scenes, bodies, and people. The photographer is determined to denounce ‘a system, where the poor are crushed, and youth is deprived of speech’ by sending unconventional artistic messages. Therefore, he is working with performance artists from the Système K collective.
Oliver Leu studied comparative theology and indology in Cologne and Bonn before he turned to photography. His work ‘Leopold’s Legacy’ is a reflection on both the visible representations of colonialism in present-day Belgium, and the hidden traces of its gruesome past. Oliver Leu presents an eclectic collection of visual research, focusing on various topics from colonial monuments and prestigious architecture to antique postcards and collaged sculptures for alternative monuments. All these remnants of a once glorious past paint a wry story of decades of structural exploitation and genocide, and demonstrate how in Europe our collective perception of these events is gradually changing. Currently, he is living and working somewhere between Germany and Belgium.
Manyatsa Monyamane is a Johannesburg-based visual storyteller, inspired and influenced by African literature and everyday surroundings. Her work unpacks unpopular themes, putting a spotlight on stories often overlooked by mainstream media. Her work ‘Serithi – The Aura of a Black Woman’ sees to emphasize the erasure of black bodies, specifically black women’s bodies in modern history. Each woman who contributes to this series brings forth a different personality whilst maintaining a true sense of self. This series embraces the multiplicity of characteristics that make each woman intensely unique in terms of her aptitude to embrace everything that comes with being a black woman.
Holger Jenss works with photography, film, text and sound. The main focus of his visual research is the examination of normative visual worlds. It engages with the question of how subcultural and mainstream contexts are constructed via visual codes and their transmissions. He is interested as well in post-colonial perspectives with regard to photography and popular culture.
The photography ‘tissue box’ is part of his work ‘GIFTS AND TREASURES’ which examines a white western gaze on Africa, specifically focusing on everyday consumer products and their presentation. Being aware of his own white European background, he uses his experiences as a basis for his art.
In 2007 Dutch photographer and multimedia journalist Ilvy Njiokiktjien started her long-term project ‘BORN FREE’, which focuses on the first generation of South Africans born after the abolition of apartheid. She intimately portrays the lives of young people and examines the lingering presence of inequality, twenty- five years past the end of the segregation system.
The project seeks to assess the degree of freedom which the born-frees actually enjoy and explores how the history of their country influences their daily lives. Ilvy Njiokiktjien shows how modern-day racism affects them but also portrays the successful lives of many born-frees beginning to find a way in their society.
Nora Hase’s project titled ‘White Gaze / Black Being / Gray Thinking’ provides insight into the core of her work. Her art has been shaped by her growing up in Berlin as a child of a German mother and a Zimbabwean father. Not seeing enough representation of black people in media and in her personal life led her to creating diverse and inclusive content. Rather than continuing to be the subject of binary points of view, her aim is to turn the gaze back on her onlookers, using her photographs. To avoid reproducing existing images, she views her working methods in contrast to the white perspective and constantly questions herself and her photos. She explores both of her roots and perspectives, being aware of both the white colonialist gaze and the black gaze. The artist classifies her photographs as a kind of Afrofuturism. Nora Hase is currently living in Cologne.
Alexis Chivir-ter Tsegba is currently working as a freelance new media artist in Nigeria. Her bold and colourful digital collages are inspired by going through life as herself and observing her emotions as well as those of others. With her art, she creates her own version of at times surreal reality. Her digital collages comprise combinations of various images and digital elements, cut and merged in order to produce a new image entirely. They often feature striking subjects in surrealistic landscapes. The artist enjoys telling stories and asking questions through her art in ways that are aesthetically pleasing and draw in the viewer. While utterly dreamy, many of her collages are packed with covert symbols that are designed to raise specific questions in the minds of viewers, challenging traditional notions on specific themes such as Afrocentrism, Afro-futurism, love, gender expression and religion.