My personal artistic practice is currently focused around stereotyping and ‘othering’ in contemporary society. Growing up in post-apartheid South Africa, I am very interested in the politics of representation involved in working with subjects historically ‘othered’, and the way that this ties into ideas of race.
In relation to this, with my practice, I hope to investigate the way that African bodies and styles are fetishized by the western media.
This process is often based on appearance and the visual codes that we employ when grouping and identifying people. I aim to interrogate the idea of the 'Other' through my work and investigate the way that people in societies exoticise and separate people according to this.
Born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1991, Alice Mann is a South African photographer who’s intimate portraiture essays explore notions of picture making as an act of collaboration, presenting viewers with empowering images that highlight her subjects’ dignity and confidence.
After graduating with a BA photography major from the University of Cape Town’s fine Arts Department, Mann has been based in London and continues to be informed by social climates in both spaces. Creating projects over extended periods is critical to her practice and she aims to deeply engage and form ongoing relationships with her subjects over time, which enables her to construct nuanced portraits that challenge one-dimensional stereotypes.
The recipient of the 2018 Joan Wakelin bursary, her work is increasingly being exhibited internationally and has been featured in numerous publications. She is currently working toward the publication of her first monologue.
These images focus on the life of Khanyisa Mtulu as she prepares for her ‘matric dance’. In South Africa the final year of high school is know as matric and the matric ball carries huge significance, seen as a landmark event in the lives of students.
For students such as Khanyi, who lives in one of the most dangerous townships in Cape Town, attending the matric ball represents a huge achievement. While the night allows them a chance to feel glamorous, and socialise with their friends and teachers, it also signifies their success in reaching their final year of school, and of having overcome odds stacked against them to do so.
The individuals in these portraits represent a fragment of the broader Congolese diaspora, spread across Europe and the UK. Using designer clothing and fashion as a means of self-expression and empowerment, they identify as a European chapter of the La Sape movement (a dynamic sub-culture emanating from Brazzaville, literally translated as the ‘Society of Ambiance makers and Elegant people’).For subscribers of the La Sape ideology, clothing provides a vehicle with which to challenge limitations, and celebrate difference. Fashion transcends something purely aesthetic; style underpins a lifestyle and provides a vehicle for personal creativity. They see fashion as a medium that allows for distinctiveness, and power over how people may perceive them.
Working in close exchange with these men, I hope to portray their efforts to confidently affirm their identity specifically within the context of British and European spaces, as those who have succeeded in the world.
These images focus on the drum majorettes at Dr Van Der Ross Primary School, located in one of the poorest areas of Cape Town, where gang violence and drug abuse is prevalent. At the school and in the wider community, there is an aspirational culture around school’s team, affectionately known as the ‘drummies’.
In South Africa, it is taken seriously as a competitive sport. For the girls at this school, being a ‘drummie’ is a privilege and an achievement, indicative of success on and off the field. It gives them a positive focus and sense of belonging, providing them with structure in a community where opportunities are limited. ‘Drummies’ is vehicle through which they can excel.
This is part of my on-going work, exploring notions of femininity and empowerment in modern society. I hope to communicate the pride and confidence that these girls have achieved through identifying as ‘drummies’ in a context where they face many social challenges.