Tshepiso Seleke is South African cinematographer, known as “thedarkroomartist” from Soweto, Orlando – a place of rich history and culture but also of great struggle.
He works within an imagined space of a bittersweet reality – of black people having come this far but also not having gone anywhere at all; the collective black experience still tells issues of systematic oppression and political and social injustice.
Being careful to set a specific tone of representation, Seleke captures his subject in socially provocative backgrounds with subjects that act suspended from the circumstances; forging the past and the present.
He is a voice for those who have been stripped of individual agency and power and those who have their agency but are still working with limited spaces.
His new solo exhibition, Ugeza Ngobisi, is on until 9 August 2020 at mmARTHouse.
He said: “Those unacknowledged identities of black people, the richness of black culture, black spiritual belief systems, black languages, and the richness of black skin is foreground in Ugeza Ngobisi – empowering the self through representation after having no control of representation for centuries.”
Seleke added that “uMuhle sengathi ugeza ngobisi”, is a Zulu saying that expresses the beauty of someone. “You are so beautiful, as if you bathe in milk”.
He said: “A long time ago when every black household owned cattle, fresh milk was an everyday delicacy. Enjoyed for nourishing properties and marveled for its purity, so pure that it was believed that it could surely cleanse one and their soul far better than the waters running down the river. It was thought that if one immersed themselves in this wondrous liquid, they could but only emerge as a thing of beauty.”