Jamal Nxedlana is a visual artist based in Joburg. He has worked as a stylist, is a founder and creative director of Cuss and expresses himself through different disciplines – photography, fashion design, performance, blogging and film. His latest film piece, Izikhothane, documents Ubkhothane, the controversial youth sub-culture sweeping across Johannesburg and its surrounding townships.
Other documentary-type shorts he has made include a film about bloggers based in Johannesburg and a film about Durban based performance artists Gogos Family.
We asked him a few questions about his work:
Between 10and5: The videos that you’ve made and the work you’ve done with Cuss has always been about what’s happening locally. Why do you feel it’s important to document?
Jamal Nxedlana: It is important to document because information is important, whether it be information about the past or the present.
10and5: When did you first come across Ubkhothane?
Jamal: Last year sometime, a friend of mine who lives in Soweto told me about it, and then I saw it on SABC1’s current affairs show “Cutting Edge”.
10and5: Why did you make the video?
Jamal: I was attracted to the culture immediately, even before I started attending Izikhothane showdowns, the stories I had heard and the pictures I had seen amazed me. Making the video was a way to showcase the culture and a way to say something about myself.
10and5: The trend has made a lot of people angry. What’s your personal opinion on the subject?
Jamal: From an outsiders perspective Ubkhothane is based on arrogance and not giving a fuck, I was a victim of that attitude on occasion, it was quite annoying at times, so I can understand why people get upset by Izikhothane’s behavior. There is however a lot more to the culture and in my opinion it has an immense aesthetic value, one that is unique to our country.
10and5: Would you label it performance art?
Jamal: Ubkhothane definitely has a performative element, it’s just not framed in that way.
10and5: What interests you about the Joburg blogging scene?
Jamal: The Bloggers video was the outcome of a research project looking at trends on Johannesburg’s downtown scene. I identified online publishing as a collective-pursuit of the people I wanted to interview and I used this idea as a way to investigate and identify other trends within the scene. So I guess I am more interested in the people and what’s going on in the city.
10and5: How do you decide on the subjects you’re going to make videos about?
Jamal: Not all the videos I make are documentary based, some are conceptual. So it all depends really, each project is unique and I approach it in that way.
10and5: What do you want to tell the world about Young South Africa?
Jamal: We are young and free! And we are all that comes with this, good and bad.
10and5: Any projects in the pipeline you could let us in on?
Jamal: Cuss has been invited to take part in group show happening at the Stevenson Gallery (Cape Town) in July, I am working on a video and a performance for that.
I also recently launched a womenswear label called Missshape, it’s available at MeMeMe (Parkhurst) and MSC Boutique (Melville). The website, with a lookbook and fashion video will be live soon, follow @MissshapeZa and @JamalAUN for more details.