Soweto-born photographer Phumzile Khanyile is changing the ways we look at gender, sexuality and performance of femininity in South Africa.
Khanyile is a Market Photo Workshop graduate and winner of the 2015 Gisèle Wulfsohn Mentorship in Photography, a platform that develops young photographers to follow activism through photography in the spirit of late South African documentary photographer Gisèle Wulfsohn.
During this period, Khanyile worked under the mentorship of globally renowned photographer Ayana V. Jackson, and showcased her work at the 2016 Joburg ArtFair as part of the Market Photo Workshop Female Alumni Showcase. She has also exhibited the 1411 Mohapi Street series in a group exhibition, ‘Seeing through complexities of difference’, at Kalashikovv Gallery in 2015.
Her series ‘Plastic Crowns’, stemming from the Gisèle Wulfsohn Mentorship, was an intimate look into understandings of the self, outside of the image of the “good girl”. Her interrogation of stereotypical notions of womanhood, sexuality and gender is done through the lens of family and kinship. Her work also speaks to the dysfunctions and tensions that belie the picturesque nostalgia of family photo albums. Art critic Sean O’Toole noted that Khanyile’s work marked a new chapter for Market Photo Workshop, and broadened the range of delicate, post-documentary style photography that previous graduates have pioneered.