Born in the 1980's in Johannesburg. I attended the Market Photo Workshop in 2007. In 2011 I graduated from the University of Cape Town with an Honors Degree in Social Anthropology, and an Undergraduate degree in Video Production specializing in Cinematography. I work as a photographer/filmmaker with a keen interest in migration, memory, place making and participatory social projects. I am a co-founder of a solar powered mobile cinema project that aims to use media for social impact - The Sunshine Cinema. I have exhibited in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Holland and Barcelona. Soft Walls was my first solo exhibition, in 2014, funded by The Gisele Wulfsohn Mentorship from The Market Photo Workshop. The work was publicly installed with an interactive exhibition on Sea Point promenade for 9 months in 2014. In 2015 Un/Settled was Shortlisted for the Lucie Foundation Photography Grant. I have just completed my Msc. in African Studies at the University of Oxford focusing on the role of media advocacy in youth empowerment initiatives.
A work in progress.
Settler. Homeland. Nostalgia. Belong.
“How do we map our identity onto landscape? ……Ever since Jan Van Riebeeck planted his famous almond and thorn bush barrier in the mid seventeenth century against the savage “Hottentots’ beyond, being South African has meant the negotiation of frontiers. It has meant the marking of territories. The separating out of us from them, of the known from the unknown, of the safe from the fearful.” - Mark Gevisser - Lost and Found in Johannesburg
In 1994, the year the new Democracy was born and Nelson Mandela became president, I started school. We were told we were the children of the rainbow nation and that we must live by the philosophy of ubuntu - “I am because you are”. Twenty years later, there is a rising awareness - much of it inherited from the writings of the Black Consciousness movement of the 1970s - among the born free generation, who do not buy into the packaged struggle legacy that has been sold to South Africa by the African National Congress (ANC). There is mounting frustration towards the largely intact white capital that controls the majority of the country. There is a growing call for white people to acknowledge their privilege.
As a white South African of Lithuanian descent whose grandparents were born of this land, the colour of my skin and the legacies of apartheid are clearly manifest in my social and economic position. Mlungu is a commonly used term in local languages to denote a white person: it directly translates to the scum that forms on top of the ocean’s waves. When I walk into many of the communities I work in, cries of “mlungu, mlungu” can be heard. My whiteness identifies me. Asked often if I am from overseas, my identity as a white person is defined as originating elsewhere, as coming with the sea, coming with an oppressive history of settler colonialism.
As a white photographer trying to come to terms with these sentiments I will create a project that reflects both on my settler heritage, as well as on the un/settling of white privilege. I will work with a number of constructed “enclaves” where whiteness and settler heritage present themselves. Using the method of self-reflexivity I will photograph my personal archive as well as spaces in South Africa that hold historical weight for my family.
Many young white South Africans do not believe that they benefited directly from Apartheid nor that there should be any kind of reparations or affirmative action installed. Growing tensions and powerful collective action have developed from this, evident in the recent Rhodes Must Fall and Fees Must Fall protests. In this body of work I would like to look into my own social construction and those of other white South Africans, to engage deeper with our fraught past - one that many people are pushing to forget, while others are fighting to correct it. Navigating this new social landscape, where old scars run deep, requires deeper conversations. It requires learning to listen. Thus, my proposed project looks inward, in an attempt to reconcile the ambiguity of being both an insider and an outsider. This insider/outsider conversation is pertinent, but it always shifting along lines constructed by history, family, politics. What ties us together? What pulls us apart? How does one map identity onto landscape in shifting terrains? These are the questions I carry with me in my camera bag. The work will engage with, and shake up, a wider audience that is too often comfortably situated in positions of privilege. It will also be a kind of catharsis, fulfilling a personal need to engage with my fraught history in the land I call home.