SA artist's exhibition blows minds

In his latest symbolic portraits, photographer Jabulani Dhlamini interrogates and unpacks the relationship between objects.

Titled Isisekelo, his exhibition is set to open today at the Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg.

For his fourth exhibition Dhlamini presents a recent series of photographs taken across the country and the African continent.

The 36-year-old artist born in Warden, Free State, is known for his work that occupies between allegorical and abstraction.

Sometimes his works look both decisive and critical, and they try resisting that easy interpretation or categorisation.

The talented photographer is known for paying attention to detail when taking pictures.

He serves as a prompt for a broader conversation around what people do with the history that informs one's identity.

Dhlamini asks: "What happens when tensions are hidden in plain sight?"

In the same series he uses a medium-format camera to document a common type of semidetached houses found in Soweto.

These were built as a means to accommodate the influx of new residents in the iconic Johannesburg township. They were typically split down the middle and shared between two families.

He focuses on their dilapidated state, zooming in on the walls, and doors that have been standing for so many years.

Dhlamini explains that these images represent the intersection between personal and social memory, functioning in a similar manner to how Mandela's house in Soweto was turned into a museum.

"These ordinary people's homes are a testament to that same history and are archives of their lived experience. I grew up in one of these houses myself after my family moved from Warden to Soweto."

Dhlamini was also featured in the Five Photographers, a Tribute to David Goldblatt group exhibition at the Gerard Sekoto Gallery.

He is a product of Market Theatre Photo Workshop and he majored in documentary photography. He is a recipient of the Edward Ruiz Mentorship 2011/12.

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