For the Rencontres D’Arles Curatorial Research grant Fulufhelo investigated Southern and Eastern African ideas around contemporary African photography in relation to documentary photography and what that meant for African female photographers.
The Solo exhibition of the works by Lebogang Tlhako opened at this year’s festival on the 10 July, 2021.
Tlhako’s , Sibadala Sibancane is an intimate portrayal of the themes suggested above, but what is even more striking about her work is her process of making.
Sibadala Sibancane, all shot on 35mm film, is a collection of photographs which speak about her relationship with her mother and how it has influenced and shaped her growth into a young woman. Her work is a reminder of a culture of keeping photo albums which was made popular in the eighteenth century as part of middle class femininity. In those days album making was for the high ranking women with the time and money to design a photo book of their memories that contained family history and personal narratives. Tlhako brings back the nostalgia in album making by creating collages that layer images from her mother’s photo albums with cut outs of portraits of young children and landscapes from her community and environment.
Sibadala Sibancane, which means we are old we are young, encompasses the shift of documentary photography to contemporary image making in a world where the photograph and the art of album making is rapidly vanishing.
Much like Lebogang Kganye and Joana Choumali have found new ways of working with the photograph, Tlhako’s idea to reshape a physical photograph into a completely new image, makes her work important to the new trend in contemporary photography in Africa by female photographers.