New series by photographer Kgaugelo Rakgwale boldly interrogates religion and gender

Born and based in Soweto, Johannesburg Kgaugelo Rakgwale is a self-taught photographer best known for her unique portrayal of her community through black and white images.

“I fell in love with black and white photography when I was around six years old after seeing the film images my father use to take,” she shares.

Kgauge’o’s recent series shot in Braamfontein, The Pursuit of Pause, was inspired by South African poet Koleka Putuma’s poem Growing Up Black & Christian and explores the role religion plays in the lives of black youths. The artist presents how patriarchal structures can converge with religious systems to reinforce gender hierarchies of male domination.

“In my photo series the male subject is presented as cold and commanding. He represents the patriarchy in a religious context. Men are thought to be authoritative and thought leaders. The female subject represents a womxn’s role in the church. She is expected to submit to the man.”

Kgaugelo continues, “These images evoke how we surrender ourselves to an otherworldly source with optimism, venerating it as our compass.”

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