Interview with Andrew Tshabangu, South African Photography Master

L'agence à Paris
Oct 29, 2018 1:26PM

Women Praying at the Crucifix, 2001

As an opening ritual, first a question about your photographic practice: how would you define it?

A.T.: I am interested in the ordinary of everyday life. I like to capture images that we tend not to pay attention to. Images that will not make it to the so called main stream media. The quieter things that are part of everyday rituals. The people I photograph are my co-creators who allow me to enter their private or sacred spaces and moments.

Can you tell us about your artistic process from a technical point of view?

A.T.: I always photograph on black and white film for my personal projects, and I rely on a natural light.

What project are you working on now?

A.T.: The current project I am working on is titled “Soweto”. This title is inspired by the poem by Langston Hughes, “Harlem”.

Of your work, Simon Njami writes, “while biography is never a trivial part of the analysis of any artist’s work, in Tshabangu’s case, the contextual elements seem to render fundamental clues to a deeper understanding of his universe.” Could you please develop?

A.T.: I am a product of the history of South Africa, and I grew up under the repressive rule of apartheid. When I began my practice my gaze was influenced by what was happening around me, my aim was to contribute meaningfully to the struggle against apartheid through photography or other means.

More particularly, in the series "Bridges" you capture unique moments of religious rituals in South Africa. How important is ritual to the organization of a community?

A.T.: Religion, or specifically Christianity, has always been a contested ideology in South Africa. Part of the population imagined they were the chosen people and would interpret certain sections of the Bible in order to justify oppression and discrimination in the country. At the same time, religion played an essential role in the struggle against the established regime. Different communities would have interpretations that were opposite from one another. The only object of my work here is to try to present different practices as the believers and the faithful would see themselves.

Andrew Tsabangu's work will be presented at the upcoming edition of Paris Photo 2018, Booth D07.

L'agence à Paris