Andrew Tshabangu Johannesburg, South Africa
Born in 1966 in Soweto, Andrew has studied at a number of institutions, amongst them at the Institute of Advancement for Journalism in 1998 and at the Alexandra Community Art Centre in Johannesburg. Tshabangu’s experience in documenting the spiritual ceremonies of black communities came into play in capturing the rituals of daily life in an African metropolis. As a photographer he is renowned for smoky, atmospheric lighting that lends a mystical element to his images.
Andrew Tshabangu is represented by Gallery Momo
Laatikkomo’s nterview with Andrew Tshabangu 17.7.2013
Where are you from? (What cities, and/or countries have you lived in – or what places/cultures have influenced you?)
AT: I am from Johannesburg, and I am influenced by the culture of my people. Africans.
What is your earliest memory of photography?
AT: My earliest memory of photography is of the images I saw in magazines and new papers.
You primarily work with black and white photography, what is your interest in black and white images?
AT: When I was first drawn into photography, the people who influenced me were working mainly in black and white photography, I have nothing against colour photography, I use colour in other works but not for personal projects.
Many of your photographs have a hazy feel: smoke, white curtains, and bright, unfocused light set your work in another reality or era. What importance does the hazy atmosphere have for you?
AT: This is not done intentionally, when I was studying we were thought in classical ways and I found that boring, hence my experimenting with different angles in photography.
Religion also holds an important place in your photography; many photographs are taken at religious events. When or how did religion enter into your images?
AT: I grew up in a religious environment, on Sundays it is common to see or witness people going to different churches in their different church uniforms. Photographing religious activities is normal because as I responded in the first question I am influenced by the cultures of my people.
Re-occurring themes in photography (in general) are, commonly, related to some kind of history/memory/preservation, or the exposure of something little known to the general public. Are these relevant subjects for you in your photographic work?
AT: I don’t know, when I photograph, I am in that moment, I am involved with the “subject” I don’t think about “memory, history” and so on. There are a lot of elements involved when one is conceptualizing the project and when in editing whether for the exhibition or other use. I guess those themes and others eventually find a way into my projects.
Could you list a few words that you were thinking about when you made this work?
Thank you so much Andrew, we look forward to seeing where your link will take us.