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Sean Metelerkamp

Highlights from the Twenty Journey | 7 Months, 24 000 Kilometres and 12 Terabytes of Photographs and Video Footage Later

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9JKtCIQ-2w[/youtube]

 

Last year we told you about the Twenty Journey, the mammoth undertaking of three young photographers who set out to document South Africa and South Africans as we celebrated twenty years of democracy. Starting in May 2014 with a borrowed van and cash they raised on Kickstarter, Sipho Mpongo set out to document ‘born frees’, Sean Metelerkamp was interested in capturing idiosyncrasy and Wikus de Wet wanted to investigate the relationship between land and the people who own and/or live on it.

 

Over the past 7 months this trio travelled 24 000 kilometres to collect 12 terabytes of video footage and photographs and countless interesting stories. They officially ended the Twenty Journey on 1 January 2015. What now? They’re currently sorting through the bulk of imagery and putting together a body of work that will be exhibited at Commune.1 in October 2015.

 

We caught up with them to find out how the journey has shaped them and their perceptions of the country and its people. Here’s an interview with Sipho, Sean and Wikus alongside some of what they’ve captured:

 

As a whole, has the Twenty Journey been what you anticipated? 

 

Sipho:

As a young adult coming from a township, I had a different perspective of what South Africa is. I haven’t had the opportunity to travel to other cities or even towns before. My idea of South Africa was challenged from the first day of the journey. I had to re-look at what I grew up thinking of South Africa and all the anger I had towards other races and places. I had to put aside my morals and ideas and use the opportunity to learn about other races and places. Bearing in mind, a black child in South Africa only knows so much about this precious country of ours.

 

Sean:

I cannot remember what I anticipated. We were so caught up in the admin of Kickstarter and trying to find a van that it was hard to think past the success or failure of those two elements. Weird that it’s already over as I sit here in my mom’s house in Knysna eating a grape fruit.

 

Wikus:

I was fortunate enough to travel a bit of South Africa while I was growing up. The perception I had of SA was deconstructed throughout the journey and I was able to see the positive and negative things. What really surprised me though is that all three of us came back with all our photography gear. Only a mobile phone got snatched out of our van at a traffic light in Pretoria.

 

Having collectively produced over 12TB of photographs and video footage during the journey, are there any specific ones that stand out?

 

Sipho:

Yhor!!! Every photograph and piece of footage plays a part in producing the next.

 

Sean:

I don’t have a favourite, yet.

 

Wikus:

This answer changes whenever I go through the footage. At the moment it is the story I did with the zama zamas (illegal gold miners) in Blyvooruitzicht and Benoni. Their stories give you an insight into the measures some people have to go to in order to feed their families.

 

Is there a particular place, person or moment that has made a lasting impression on you?

 

Sipho:

When I was in Kimberley, I walked for almost three hours with other boys. One of them kept on asking whether if I trust them. I told him I don’t trust them and they don’t trust me. So let’s do away with the trust issues. That moment I realised that I was courageous and what happened after that… I’d rather keep to myself.

 

Sean:

I experienced euphoric moments and I continually searched for them whilst on the journey, addicted, but most days are testing as you drift in the confusion. And then much like the instant change of weather, a random subtle moment of feeling a deep connection with a stranger occurs as all the conceptual contrasts seem to fall away and we see into one another. And then it’s over. And maybe I didn’t even take a photo. Unable to share this moment with you, but it made a lasting impression on me. Unfortunately, when experiencing such unusual things, whether I like it or not, I find it hard to relay this information properly. Major parts of me are only understandable through the photos, videos and writings.

 

Wikus:

This answer is always changing. I will tell you about a Jack Russell called Chiefie we met on the journey. He lives with the family we stayed with in Mtubatuba. He has been the victim of a few snake bites and life in general has not treated him very well. Chiefie is fucked, to say the least. But when you see him limping around corners with his bad eye-sight you can see that he is ready to wrestle another snake. He will fight until the bitter end!

 

What was the hardest part of the journey?

 

Sipho:

Convincing the person behind the camera that you will represent them truthfully.

 

Sean:

The hardest parts are often the most rewarding on the other side, so it would link with the answer above – breaking through the layers to get to the core. It happens so fast and can be extremely draining if you miss them time and again.

 

Wikus:

Getting back to Cape Town. We are now busy with the editing process of the journey. Editing 7 months of content is the hardest part.

 

Looking back, what do you think your collection of photographs and video footage suggest about South Africa 20 years into Democracy?

 

Sipho:

Let’s wait for our exhibition scheduled for October this year…

 

Sean:

Still too deep in it at this point to contextualise what I have seen and captured. I need distance and time to reflect.

 

Wikus:

That South Africa is a magnificently puzzled country. There is a lot of room for progress. I am very excited about the next 10 years in South Africa.

 

How has your approach and aesthetic evolved during the past year?

 

Sipho:

Respecting other people’s spaces and ways of doing things can give you an access you wouldn’t get if otherwise, and knowing your place in that process.

 

Sean:

On this journey, being a stranger brought a tension to my work that I revel in. So in that sense it has strengthened my comfort zone. I’ve evolved from being a loner to a stranger. What’s next in the evolution? Probably a boner in clear and present danger. Aesthetic – It inherently evolves. I don’t dig being bored.

 

Wikus:

If you respect people and their spaces, the access you get is unbelievable. You just have to enter situations with the proper intentions.

 

Has the Twenty Journey changed you personally in any way?

 

Sipho:

My idea of South Africa has changed tremendously.

 

Sean:

My confusion concerning the human has caricatured.

 

Wikus:

Because of all the stress during the Kickstarter campaign I developed another eye in my eyelid. It got bigger over time and I had to have it surgically removed. I have learned that you cannot plan things and that you should just go with whatever happens and deal with things as they come along. Stress is a killer.

 

What’s next?

 

Sipho:

Study Fine Art at the Michealis School of Fine Art.

 

Sean:

Noupoort, Monte Rosa, Street Melodies Eternal – these three projects have been sitting with me for a few years now so I need to figure out how to get them off my shoulders. Hopefully all this year, if the time is right.

 

Wikus:

Post production on Twenty Journey. I am looking at a few grants for projects I want to do around ideas that I have accumulated while traveling the country for 7 months.

 

 

Sipho Mpongo | ‘Born Frees’

 

Sipho Mpongo

Sipho Mpongo

Sipho Mpongo

Sipho Mpongo

Sipho Mpongo

Sipho Mpongo

Sipho Mpongo

Sipho Mpongo

Sipho Mpongo

Sipho Mpongo

Sipho Mpongo

Sipho Mpongo

Sipho Mpongo

Sipho Mpongo

 

Sean Metelerkamp | Idiosyncrasies 

 

Sean Metelerkamp

Sean Metelerkamp

Sean Metelerkamp

Sean Metelerkamp

Sean Metelerkamp

Sean Metelerkamp

Sean Metelerkamp

Sean Metelerkamp

Sean Metelerkamp

Sean Metelerkamp

Sean Metelerkamp

Sean Metelerkamp

Sean Metelerkamp

Sean Metelerkamp

Sean Metelerkamp

Sean Metelerkamp

Sean Metelerkamp

Sean Metelerkamp

Sean Metelerkamp

Sean Metelerkamp

Sean Metelerkamp

 

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[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiGboJ6y8KY[/youtube]

 

Wikus de Wet | The relationship between land and the people who own and/or live on it

 

Wikus de Wet

Wikus de Wet

Wikus de Wet

Wikus de Wet

Wikus de Wet

Wikus de Wet

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Wikus de Wet

Wikus de Wet

Wikus de Wet

Wikus de Wet

Wikus de Wet

Wikus de Wet

Wikus de Wet

Wikus de Wet

Wikus de Wet

 

 

Visit their website or find them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube to see more of their work as they release it leading up to the Twenty Journey exhibition at Commune.1 in October 2015.

 



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