Swim. Don't Drown

 My favorite time to go swimming is either during winter or when it’s raining.

My favorite time to go swimming is either during winter or when it’s raining.

 

I began with little steps in a round pool swimming 5 stroke laps to get from side to side and in doing so I would be much more comfortable when I eventually started swimming in a full sized Olympic pool as pictured to the left here.

Yes. You read correctly. Today I'm not going to talk about photography. Well, I probably will, but in a roundabout way.

I swim. Not professionally or for competitive reasons, but purely for exercise and I suppose as a form of meditation. It gets boring. The repetition, but that's also what I kinda enjoy about it. The literal back and forth, lap after lap, lungs burning, oxygen deprived, limbs feeling like led weights.

I started swimming just over three years ago. I started off small in the pool at the estate where my friend, Ett lives. The reason being, that I became quite anxious having my head submerged under water; the way you’re supposed to swim. It's difficult to explain. I would equate it to being claustrophobic, but with all this open space around you in the water. The first time I experienced this was when I went snorkeling with a girlfriend of mine off the coast of Mozambique. I was excited to do it, but as soon as my head went under that water, my brain said; "Nope, no way! Why are you trying to drown yourself?" So I sat in the boat and tried not to vomit.

Now, three and a half years in, I swim 2-4 times a week. Some days are great and others are shit, just like most things in life. You have the days where you get into a groove and you’re gliding through the water, your breathing is in sync and everything just works. And then you get those days where you are a fucking ton of bricks and your ass is dragging so hard you might as well be walking along the bottom of the pool.

How does this relate to photography? Well, right now my ass is dragging and my thoughts are a ton of bricks, meaning I find myself in a space where creating seems impossible. However, my descent into that hole hasn’t been fully realized, in that I am combating it, by trying to arrange several projects to keep me from reaching the bottom, coz clawing my way out is always tough even if it is rewarding in the end.

That being said… A few things that have been keeping me busy are group exhibitions I’ve taken part in.
First up is the Sasol New Signatures Art Competition. My piece “Pietà” was selected back in 2015 and in subsequent years I’ve not had anything that featured until this year where my piece “Kanselkleed” (Pulpit Banner) was selected as part of the top 100 entries and I recently learned that it was selected with a few other pieces to be exhibited at the Sasol HQ in Sandton, Johannesburg.

 Kanselkleed (Pulpit Banner)

Kanselkleed (Pulpit Banner)

This past weekend was the first of three upcoming group exhibitions I am partaking in. The first one was at Banele Khoza’s new studio/gallery space; BKhz in Juta Street, Braamfontein. It’s running until 1 December and I urge you to go and check it out when you find yourself in the neighborhood. Not so much for my work but for the other artists taking part, especially Tatenda Chidora’s pieces.

The second exhibition is a one night only pop-up show at Trent Gallery on the 9th of November in Waterkloof where I’ll be exhibiting alongside some of my favourite local artists.

Liminal Feminine.jpg
 

Kanselkleed: Conceptual Statement

The artist invites the viewer into a dialogue between religion and consumerism. The work resembles a ‘Kanselkleed’ (Pulpit Banner), that is used in traditional churches to dress the pulpit according to the season in the liturgical year.

The banner is a dark red hanging on a century old wooden rod, red being used during the Easter Weekend in the church, the core season in the Christian year for many adherents. The wood could be a subtle reference to the cross, and to tradition as a whole in the church.

The words on the banner, ‘GELOOF KOOP LIEFDE’ (Faith Purchase Love), is a wordplay on the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Love (Geloof, Hoop, Liefde). It is by this wordplay that the artist comments on both society’s worship and value of consumerism, and on religion’s incorporation of a consumerist culture.

The Gold trim amplifies these comments on consumerism, as seen in the ironic use of expensive décor and architecture in many church buildings. These words can also be read as a sentence, GELOOF KOOP LIEFDE (Faith Purchases Love). Commenting perhaps on the condition to adhere to certain dogma before one in included by the church or even by God.

I need to thank my friend Sheila-Madge Bakker for helping to make my vision a reality and Pierre du Plessis for helping to make sense of my words regarding the Synopsis of the piece.

 
Behind the Lens.jpg

Lastly there is a group charity exhibition coming up that my friend Banele Khoza is curating in collaboration with Absa titled “A letter to my 22 year old self”.
I am very lucky to be featured amongst some truly incredible artists including Banele himself, Justin Dingwall, Lady Skollie, Nina Torr, Heidi Fourie and many more I don’t even know.

In a nutshell these are some things that have been keeping me busy. In all honesty though I have not been making new work for these exhibitions, but rather showing work that relates to the themes of the show or work that has not yet seen the light of day.

That’s been my story for the last while since returning from my travels and working on the new website. Which you should definitely check out if you haven’t yet. There is a lot of new work up, plus a few older favourites.

Thanks for reading.

Travel Pt.1 (Switzerland)

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” 
― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

I like that quote. And yes, I just googled "travel quotes", because I don't know any. That was actually my first result and I think it rings very true. Prior to being 28 years old, I had never traveled abroad. The furthest I had ever gone was across one of our borders to Mozambique with a girlfriend at the time and her family.

Then 2013 came and this happened. Followed the link and you're caught up? Okay, great.

In 2014 I interned with American Editorial and Commercial Photographer Zack Arias for a few months and if you want to read about that you can check out the archival blog, Only in America. That was my first time traveling abroad and that just opened the floodgates.

My next trip was in 2015 to China with the Steinway artist Charl du Plessis, which was a very impromptu and spontaneous thing.

In 2016 I didn't have the good fortune to do any traveling. And that brings us to this year, where I basically invited myself to go on tour with the Charl du Plessis trio to Ernen, Switzerland for the Musikdorf Festival and also slap a trip to Italy on top of that and go see my friends Sara Lando and Alessandro Locatelli.

Why the f*ck am I writing about this? Well, because traveling opens you up. To new people, new experiences, possibilities. It breaks down self-imposed barriers. It's scary and wonderful traveling on your own and even with someone to foreign and strange lands where you don't speak the language and you communicate with your hands, eyes, making gestures. It's almost like charades in a strange way.

Anyway, here are some images from that trip.

Sit back, relax, maybe get some wine, because this will be a long one with many images, and then go buy a plane ticket and travel the world. It's one of the easiest things to do, which is both great and shit.

On the train from Zürich to the small town of Ernen. The reason for there being no images of Werner is that he forgot his glasses at the airport and had to double back to get them. Which I a happy to report, he did.

Some images from around the town as well as the trio rehearsing.

The trio rehearsing with Opera singer Rachel Harnisch.

On this morning I went hiking into the forests of Ernen and it was a really beautiful site. During the entire 90 minute to 2-hour walk I only encountered people twice. The thing that kinda took my breath away on this morning was the fact that I drank water from a glacier that was running down the mountain as you can see on the left in the second image. I just had to stop and take in how ridiculous this was, that two days prior I had been in South Africa and now I was in the mountains of Switzerland.

This was followed by the trio rehearsing with Rachel in the church where most of the performances take place during the festival. I also had the great fortune of photographing world-famous ballet choreographer Heinz Spoerli from the Zürich ballet company (he retired in 2012) along with Charl. This was a little bit of an impromptu shoot and as you can see I had to get creative with my lighting :)

The morning and the evening of the main performance of the trio with Rachel in the church.

The morning before the trio's final performance, as they were rehearsing I photographed the husband and wife (the first two images) who are, I believe the main sponsors of the event, as well as Francesco Walter who spearheads the festival and the last images, are of Heinz Spoerli as well as a sneaky BTS image showing how I had a nice lady hold up a piece of tinfoil that doubled as a reflector. I had to be resourceful for a second time on this trip in how I photographed one of my subjects.

This is the town hall and the place that the trio first performed in 7 years earlier. It was also a fitting end to Hugo (the drummers') tenure, bringing it full circle by playing where it all began. Hugo now lives in Beijing with his wife.

And that was pretty much it for this first part of the journey. We ate well, drank well (some of us a little too well, I would wager) and hung out with strangers and friends. It was and is probably one of my favorite trips thus far and if all goes well I will return in 2018 to document a very cool collaboration and performance. Here's to hoping.

Part two will be up soon, where I speak a little about Italy and my time there with friends as well as on my own.

Thanks for reading