As South Africa reaches two decades of democracy this year, three young photographers are embarking on a journey across the land to ask important questions and document their findings. Their mission? – To feel the pulse of South Africa. Sipho Mpongo, a 20-year-old Xhosa from Langa, Wikus de Wet, a 23-year-old Afrikaner from Bloemfontein, and Sean Metelerkamp, a 29-year-old Englishman from Knysna plan to travel in a campervan over 6 months from The Mother City to Musina, The City of Gold To Oudtshoorn, the Garden Route to the Eastern Cape, across to the Kalahari and more to meet their fellow South Africans. Each has a specific focus for what he wants to investigate through his images.
Sipho, the youngest of the trio, will focus on the first generation growing up out of apartheid rule. Wikus will be investigating the cultural, historical and commercial value of land and the relationship it has to the people who inhabit the space. Sean will highlight the absurdity of life in this magnificently puzzled country using point and shoot 35mm cameras, as well as making videos using various formats such as Go Pros, cell phones and high end digital cameras.
Titled Twenty, the project and the photographers’ experiences will be presented regularly through an online visual journal consisting of audio, video and photography. The culmination of this expedition, using select material from the visual journal, will hopefully result in a collaborative book as well as an exhibition.
More about each photographer:
Sipho was born in the Eastern Cape in a rural village called Nqamakwe in 1993 and was raised in Langa, Cape Town. Illiso Labantu, a local photographic mentorship programme, provided the platform for him to launch into a photographic career. Sipho has recently completed a full time course in study at the Cape Town School of Photography whilst simultaneously contributing to various photographic group shows and projects in Cape Town and internationally.
Artist statement: The ‘born frees’ make up about 40 percent of the population, and the critics among older South Africans contend that they are apathetic and apolitical, unaware of the history of the struggle that made their lives better. Will they allow themselves to be defined by the scars of apartheid, or will they embrace freedom, choice and opportunity? Taking responsibility for being exactly where you are gives you the power to be exactly where you want to be. They are the future. I will focus on the future.
Wikus is a Cape Town based freelance photographer. He graduated with a BA Applied Design degree at Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography in 2011. In 2010 he was part of the Bonani Africa Documentary Photography group exhibition. During 2011 he was chosen to work on a HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in Tanzania where he used photography and high definition video. This project was in collaboration with Sony, World Photography Organization, AMREF, Global Fund, Large Blue and Stellenbosch Academy. He was a participant at the Nikon NOOR Documentary Photography Masterclass that was held in Cape Town in March 2012. His project “Remaking Afrikaner Identity in a democratic South Africa” was exhibited along with other photographers in the Good Hope Gallery as part of the Cape Town Month of Photography. In 2013 he started to work as a freelance photographer at Photo24 which provides pictures for Die Burger, beeld, Volksblad and Rapport.
Artist statement: A plan was set in place at the birth of democracy to repossess land, and return it to those from whom it was taken, but it doesn’t seem that anything has been done about it. Land is still a contentious issue amongst most South Africans. My goal is to understand the relationship land has to the people who occupy it. Cultural and historical value to land in South Africa will come to the foreground.
Sean Metelerkamp is from Knysna, South Arica. Born in 1984. His video for Die Antwoord – Zef Side was exhibited in the Guggenheim Museums in New York, Bilboa, Venice and Berlin where it won an award for Top 25 Videos of 2010. Zef Side also won the Yellow Pencil at the D&AD awards in London for Outstanding Achievement in 2011. Residency Unlimited hosted Sean for six months in 2011 in New York as he focused on video and photography within the new landscape. Sean’s films and photographs have been shown at festivals and exhibitions in America, Europe, Africa, Australia and Britain. GQ Magazine has recognized Sean as one of South Africa’s ‘Top 35 Coolest Guys’ in both 2010 and 2013. Sean is represented by Good Egg in London and Fly on the Wall in Cape Town for video.
Artist statement: I am South African; I retain the good, the bad, the weird and the wonderful within my blood and I see the hope, superstition, desire, regret, persistence and anger of this nation. My first ten years of existence moving up and down the beautiful coastline of this country was under white rule. I recognize the problematic nature of racial realities that afflict all South Africans and have been a part of the change, before and after. Attuned to new experiences, alien to the values of the dominant society I use my tools and skills to evoke the absurdity of life in this magnificently puzzled country.
One of the most exciting aspects of the journey will be the invitation of fellow storytellers onto the campervan for a number of days. These storytellers will have the opportunity to share their take on the topic of twenty years of democracy whether it is through photographs, music, poetry or dance. These truly authentic South African stories will be made into short films by the team.
Follow the journey at: