PHOTO ESSAY | Award-winning photographer Neo Ntsoma talks through some of her most iconic images

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Lebo Mathosa as shot by Neo Ntsoma
Lebo Mathosa as shot by Neo Ntsoma

Neo Ntsoma is an award-winning South African photographer who has become a quiet and yet integral force in the country’s visual landscape. In this gallery, she talks us through some of her most impactful images.

"This image of Nelisiwe Xaba, a celebrated Soweto born contemporary dance choreographer, was photographed during her performance titled, They Look at Me and That's All They Think, inspired by the story of Sara 'Saartjie' Baartman (1789-1815) a Khoi woman famously exhibited as a sideshow attraction in 19th Century Europe, under the name “Hottentot Venus”, staged at the 2006 Dance Umbrella festival in Johannesburg. In a very intelligent but simple way Nellie translates Saartjie’s story into an autobiographic vision of black African women's bodies today. Her powerful and often thought provoking body of work is politically driven and challenges stereotypes of the black female body and cultural notions of gender mainstreams. I have never been left unchallenged by her work."

"Between 2002 and 2003, I was a tutor at Pathshala South Asian Media Academy in Dhaka, Bangladesh. On off days, I often picked up my camera and roamed the streets of Dhaka in search of images as I found it to be the easiest way to connect with the community. During one of those random photo walks, out of curiosity, I made a quick stop at Tejgaon slum (an informal settlement), where homes are build closely to the tracks leading in and out of one of Dhaka's main train stations. Life continues as in any other part of the city, in spite of the dangerous proximity to the live tracks and trains passing at regular intervals. This is where I photographed this beautiful young girl who was not even five years at the time."

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