It doesn’t seem all that long ago that we were introduced to Honey and Bra Gavini, the now iconic duo who had us all sit up and pay attention to a new form of South African storytelling through The Honey.
But it’s been a year now that photographer Kgomotso Neto Tleane and communication designer and art director Rendani Nemakhavhani have spent in gallery spaces, newspaper covers and online features across the country. To celebrate their collaborative story and all that it’s come to achieve, The Honey have teamed up with Andile Buka, Anthony Bila, and Sakhile Cebekhulu to host ‘The Honeyversary’ this Saturday. And you’re all invited.
We caught up with Rendani and Kgomotso ahead of the event to talk collaboration, contemporary storytelling and of course, celebration.
So it’s been a year now that The Honey has been around. Looking back, did you ever think the project would blow up as quickly as it did?
Kgomotso: I think for me I never even thought of the project becoming a thing. When Rendani approached me to be part of this it merely me exploring something I didn’t understand or know much about, I understood it more as we kept creating, it’s been really surprising to see how well received the project has been, Rendani did initially say if we create this might bring us more things when it comes to work and opening other opportunities, which is totally true.
Rendani: I don’t know about blowing up, but I imagined it being successful. Maybe not at this pace, but I definitely imagined it taking me somewhere. Even on a personal journey. Knowing how far I could push myself to get what I wanted has been really rewarding.
How has The Honey evolved over the past year and what have both of you taken away from the project?
R: It’s moved from an experimental phase into cinematic photography. Which is something that I feel we’ve stumbled upon in an amazing way. We’d been creating this work while oblivious to the fact that what we are making actually looks like more than stills. I’ve personally learnt that it’s important to be able to practice being deliberate about the work and being conscious of what I’m putting out and associating myself with. Also just learning to detach myself from the character, but also to live in conjunction with the character (I hope that makes sense).
K: The honey has evolved into a not just being us telling a story, but also partly a business, it has taught me a lot about working together as collaborators, about how so much more can be achieved when we work as a unit, another thing For me is that as much as you create creative work you still need to take care of the business side of it.
The Honey has been called many things over the past year – unapologetic blackness, a project that tells the real SA story, the new age Yizo Yizo – but what does it mean to the two of you personally?
K: For me The Honey means taking ownership of our stories and being honest in the way we tell them, we use our experiences and everything we’ve known to create this, it’s me being honest to myself about how I want to be portrayed and perceived.
R: I’ve become more cognisant of the way in which I deliver myself in the context of the work. The Honey in particular is about personal growth as well as growing as a person who creates cool shit with a purpose. And for me that’s become really important, to create with an intention of sorts. But above anything else this project serves as a portal of representation of something that the world often turns a blind eye to.
Tell me a bit about the collaboration with Anthony Bila and Andile Buka.
R: I had particularly wanted to step out of the box of the norm to show how the characters or Honey in particular is fluid and that she can’t be defined by one particular look or even theme. Working with both these photographers was a pleasure, especially because I enjoy and respect their work so much.
Lastly, tell me about The Honeyversary party. Will Honey and Gavini be out in full force?
R: I don’t know about full force, but the two will be with the people, as the people have requested (lol). This party is to celebrate how far we’ve come. We’re working with a few of our favourites. Anthony and Andile as mentioned before. Sakhile Cebekhulu who’s done the most in the shortest time with our garments. Our DJ lineup is crazy as well. It’s going to be a good time.