African lens: African photographers dominate CAP awards

LAND OF IBEJI Collaborators Sanne de Wilde and Bénédicte Kurzen won for “Land of Ibeji,” a series of portraits of twins.
LAND OF IBEJI Collaborators Sanne de Wilde and Bénédicte Kurzen won for “Land of Ibeji,” a series of portraits of twins.

These are some of the works by the winners of this year’s prize for Contemporary African Photography (CAP), who were selected from 25 shortlisted artists.

They were announced this week at the Photo Basel international art fair in Switzerland and selected by an international panel of 19 judges. Awarded annually since 2012, t he CAP prize selects five photographers whose works engage with Africa or the African diaspora.

More than 1 000 entries across 60 countries were received, about 70% of them from Africa.

And the winners are:

Jodi Bieber

Johannesburg-born Jodi Bieber won for her series of photos titled #i, in which she deals with the subject of apartheid by focusing on the official absence of apartheid.

As such, her photographic project begins on April 27 1994, the day the ANC won the first free and general elections in South Africa, which she reported on as a journalist for a major daily newspaper.

YOUTH CULTURE SA’s Jodi Bieber won for her portrait series, #i, which documents young people born after 1994 from various social classes in Johannesburg who talk about their dreams, plans, hopes and ideas.

Sanne de Wilde and Bénédicte Kurzen

Sanne de Wilde and Bénédicte Kurzen, who were born in Belgium and France, respectively, were chosen for their work Land of Ibeji, a series of portraits of twins.

While researching the subject, the photographers relied on unusual staging techniques that showcased their sense of flair and spectacle, emphasising traditional and symbolic colours.

The pair also made use of blending techniques and reflections to highlight their concept of the twin as a mythological figure.

LAND OF IBEJI Collaborators Sanne de Wilde and Bénédicte Kurzen won for “Land of Ibeji,” a series of portraits of twins.
DUALITY Collaborators Sanne de Wilde and Bénédicte Kurzen explored the mythology of twinhood in Nigeria, west Africa, specifically Yorubaland, in their series of portraits of twins titled Land of Ibeji. ‘Ibeji’ means ‘double birth’ and ‘the inseparable two’ in Yoruba. The photos convey a conspiratorial closeness to express the idea that twins share a soul.

Thembinkosi Hlatshwayo

Johannesburg-born Thembinkosi Hlatshwayo also got the nod for his work Slaghuis, which conjures up images of a slaughterhouse or, in a broader sense, a massacre, driving home the point that there is no room for hopes and dreams in his compositions.

The artist shows how his sense of shame and despair regarding the space in which he grew up has given rise to rage.

HOPELESS Thembinkosi Hlatshwayo’s project, Slaghuis, explored the emotional and physical effects of his experience growing up in a home attached to a tavern using the medium of photographic collage.

Abdo Shanan

The notion of Algeria as a multicultural country led photographer Abdo Shanan to question the relationship between personal history and the present.

His work, Dry, also looks at the inherent solitariness of the individual.

SOLITARY Algeria-born Abdo Shanan examined the complexities inherent in the individual as well as the subject of nationality in his series, titled Dry.

Jansen van Staden

Jansen van Staden turned his attention to the fatal mix of tradition and trauma in his homeland.

His Microlight series of photographs is a self-therapy of sorts for Van Staden, illuminating as it does anecdotally social parameters such as the need for closeness and communication, and the constant and unconscious infiltration of the instruments of violence into everyday life.

MICROLIGHT South Africa’s Jansen van Staden won for his project titled “Microlight”.
STATE OF (DIS)GRACE SA’s Jansen van Staden won for his project, Microlight. Aware of his being part of the first South African generation not plagued by war, the artist focused on the subjects of tradition and trauma in his homeland. He asked himself whether hatred and war had long ago been inscribed in the genes, and whether they continue to make their effect felt or lie dormant, only to one day re-emerge.

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