ukuhamba ukubona. As I was running to take an image of the brigade escorting Mam Winnie. I accidently took an image documenting my movement. It's in this moment, I am reminded of zulu saying. That describe movement as a way of Seeing and to see is to know.
The approximate English translation for the Xhosa word ‘ixesha’ is time. By titling his third solo exhibition with Goodman Gallery iXesha!, Jabulani Dhlamini offers a lens for considering this elusive concept through his photography, which expands on the notion of time in various ways.
This early-career survey brings together recent bodies of work in which Dhlamini explores the concept of a collective national memory in light of South Africa’s traumatic history.
iQhawekazi (2018), a key series on this exhibition, responds to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s recent death. For this series, Dhlamini turns his camera toward symbolic expressions of mourning and memory, such as the informal street memorials that coalesced around Madikizela-Mandela’s official memorial in Soweto. This moving series was first published in the Financial Times for the ‘Millennials’ edition in April 2018. Among the nine photographers selected for this issue, Dhlamini was the only featured artist from the African continent. In this special edition, he is named as ‘one of the best young photographic talents around the world’.
Another key series in iXesha! is Recaptured (2016), in which Dhlamini explores the interaction between personal and collective memory within the context of the 1960 Sharpeville massacre. From 2013 to 2016, Dhlamini spent time with South Africans who experienced the trauma of the massacre, seeking to create a visual representation of social memory by photographing objects which triggered individual recollections of that historic day.
Dhlamini’s characteristically subtle approach to capturing South Africa’s fraught past and present positions him within a specific trajectory of South African photography, initially carved out by the late David Goldblatt. In recognition of a shared sensibility, Dhlamini was selected by Goldblatt to feature alongside three other young local photographers for Five Photographers, A Tribute to David Goldblatt at the French Institute in Johannesburg earlier this year.
For Dhlamini, iXesha! represents an important moment, ‘bringing together various bodies of work that document the present in different contexts, as I lay down a foundation for navigating the future’.
According to curator Teboho Ralesai, Dhlamini’s subtlety in vision stems from the fact that he sees the self as equally important to the collective: ‘This translates into shooting quiet moments and symbolic objects, often pointing away from the action, which can, in turn, resonate very powerfully with a sense of collective feeling and memory.’
ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Jabulani Dhlamini was born in Warden, Free State in 1983. In 2012, Dhlamini held his first solo exhibition at the Market Photo Workshop Gallery in Johannesburg and the following year, his first commercial exhibition at Goodman Gallery Cape Town. Prior to that, Dhlamini received a National Diploma in Photography from the Vaal University of Technology in 2009. He is the recipient of numerous awards in photography, including two Profoto Awards in 2008 and in 2009, a Fujifilm Southern Africa Photographic Award and Edward Ruiz Mentorship for 2011—2012. He lives and works in Johannesburg.
ABOUT THE CURATOR:
iXesha! is the first exhibition curated by Teboho Ralesai at Goodman Gallery.
Ralesai has a B.Tech fine Art from Vaal University of technology. In 2013 he participated in the Marco Cianfanelli mentorship programme as part of the Standard Bank New Rosebank Headquarters Sculpture Installation. He previously curated a group show at SoMa Art Space in Johannesburg, and exhibited his own artwork at the FNB Art Fair in 2014 and 2015.
Jabulani Dhlamini was born in Warden, Free State in 1983; he lives and works in Johannesburg. Dhlamini majored in documentary photography at the Vaal University of Technology, graduating in 2010. From 2011-2012, Dhlamini was a fellow of the Edward Ruiz Mentorship and completed a year-long residency at the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg. Dhlamini’s work focuses on his upbringing, as well as the way he views contemporary South Africa.
His Umama series was exhibited as part of his Edward Ruiz award at the Market Photo Workshop in 2012, and at Goodman Gallery Cape Town in 2013 – his first solo exhibition with the gallery. In Umama, Dhlamini pays homage to single mothers and explores the challenges faced by women raising children on their own in South African townships. For his Recaptured series, which was exhibited at Goodman Gallery in 2016, Dhlamini turned to the community of Sharpeville, asking people to bring objects that reminded them of the 1960 massacre. Over the course of several years Dhlamini interviewed and photographed a number of individuals who traced their movements and emotions on the day of the Sharpeville Massacre, relocating themselves within the collective memory.
In 2018 Dhlamini’s work was featured on the Five Photographers, A Tribute to David Goldblatt group exhibition at the Gerard Sekoto Gallery at the French Institute. In his most recent exhibition at Goodman Gallery, iXesha!, Dhlamini explored how memory is created and archived within a community where the memory has been localised. This exhibition included images from Dhlamini’s recent series iQhawekazi documenting the events around Winnie Mandela’s funeral.