City Press speaks to local artist Andrew Tshabangu about his new exhibition

2017-04-09 06:00
Andrew Tshabangu

Johannesburg - Born in Soweto in 1966, Andrew Tshabangu has been a photographer his whole life. Now, his extensive body of work has been curated into an exhibition, called Footprints, at the Standard Bank Gallery.

“In Footprints ... Tshabangu invites viewers to embark on a visual journey to various locations and moments, where he explores and documents activities of everyday life, transitions and metamorphoses of the townships, the metropolitan city and rural areas,” says curator Thembinkosi Goniwe. The collaborative selection process between curator and artist took almost a year to complete. Tshabangu has always been focused on capturing uncontrived shots of the everyday life of a black person in South Africa.

“When I started photography, it was during the height of the violence in this country. The images that were being published in mainstream media were violent ones,” he told me during an interview at the Standard Bank Gallery, surrounded by his portraits. “And as somebody from the township, I knew that violence wasn’t the only thing that existed in townships – I didn’t see myself in those images, I didn’t see my people in those images. There were other, quieter moments. So, I decided to dedicate myself to capturing those quieter images.”

Here's a look at the exhibition:

In gentle monochrome tones (Tshabangu only shoots in black and white), Footprints shows the interiors of township houses, commuters waiting for taxis, people washing clothes and Sunday church processions.

Tshabangu doesn’t just shoot in South Africa; he has series from Kibera in Kenya, Réunion Island, New York City and Mozambique.

One particularly lovely photograph is that of a couple dancing in the middle of Central Park. The image is brazen, energetic – a true moment-in-time shot.

“This is Central Park in New York in 1999. This is one of my favourite shots,” he says.

Tshabangu now spends a lot of his time mentoring young photographers in workshops. He teaches how to tell stories visually.

“Remember when you were young and you had pen pals? I tell my students to imagine they have a pen pal in Kenya, and they need to tell them what South Africa is like using only images.”

He is currently working on a project in Mozambique called Salt, which looks at the salt production there.

Andrew Tshabangu: Footprints

Venue: Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg

Gallery open Monday to Friday: 8:30 to 16:30

Saturday: 09:00 to 16:00

Exhibition on until Saturday, 29 April.

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