27 May Dead Chums | It’s Whatever You Think It Is
“It’s whatever you think it is” or, at least, that’s what Theodore Afrika and Xolani Dani will tell you when asked about their experimental collaboration, Dead Chums. The project began with the idea to merge their two fields – photography for Theodore and graphic design for Xolani – to create an ongoing series of interesting and often confrontational work. Apart from that, Theodore says, “Dead Chums makes us happy.” Simple as that.
So far there are eight instalments of the project, each with a narrative that feels tied to the same thread. Xolani refers to topics seen as taboo or issues that many members of society would rather not be challenged with. “Whether it’s race, religion, education, sexual orientation…these are some of the things we are exploring here,” he says. Theodore offers a different perspective, explaining that he doesn’t think of it as a matter of themes. “Like we always say, Dead Chums is “whatever you think it is” because basically, it’s exactly that.” The fact that some of their images have been met with apprehension does little to deter them; it’s an exercise in reactions – good or bad.
Each new shoot is planned weeks before it is actually produced; Theodore and Xolani brainstorm the scene and conceptualise a couple of “winning” pictures. However, on the day it all comes together they make sure to leave room for improvisation. What’s next? “We have a skyscraper filled with ideas,” says Xolani. “Hopefully time is on our side but we can’t reveal anything for now.” What he will say is that nothing is holding them back from continuing on their current creative path. Theodore adds, “It’s all a learning curve in the end. Life is not as real as we think.” And it’s this very premise that Dead Chums exists upon.