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Bongani Tshabalala

South Africa 

Born in South Africa and based in the Free state, Bongani Tshabalala is a self-taught photographer whose contemporary style is narrating the stories of African people. He’s driven by creating a more diverse picture and inspired by the stories and faces of his subjects. Bongani usually aims his camera at subjects other than himself, usually in high focus and sharp contrast of dark and light, framing with artistic agency the im-particular depictions of South African male beings in their presence. He uses his place of birth as an inspiration to tell stories which are happening in townships. His subjects are often people he discovers on the streets and finds interesting. Bongani studied Mechanical engineering at the Central University of Technology, but he never gave up on his dream of becoming a professional visual artist.” Photography to me it’s more than just clicking the shutter speed it’s more of connecting with my subjects,” he says.

“During lockdown I went to the mall to buy some essentials that I needed and I realized how much everything has changed since the lockdown and how much we need each other. Matsoho a hlatswana (One hand washes the other) speaks of how we are forced to venture into the unknown and trust one another throughout this pandemic and explore alternative ways to revive humanity. Maybe this covid 19 is a reset button for humanity, for us to change our norms, the way we treat each other and ultimately, we’ll create a healthy environment for all of us. In my photograph one hand is sanitizing the other hands which is a gesture of Ubuntu (humanity towards others) and unity.”

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Bongani Tshabalala; Matsoho a hlatswana (One hand washes the other)
24 Oct 2022