Presence: Five Contemporary African Photographers is a new Print Sales Gallery exhibition showcasing works by artists active in Mozambique, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, brought together under the umbrella of a new initiative, The Photographic Collective.
Presenting new and existing work by Amilton Neves Cuna, Anke Loots, Léonard Pongo, Mário Macilau and Nonzuzo Gxekwa, the exhibition is curated by Dr Julie Bonzon, founder of The Photographic Collective, in collaboration with Print Sales Gallery. The Photographic Collective is a not-for-profit enterprise which aims to bring visibility to artists living and working in Africa, especially those without gallery representation.
Encompassing social documentary, intimate portraits, still life and ethereal landscapes, the works on display illuminate diverse approaches to photography within an African context, offering a vivid insight into the wide range of practices, enquiries and key narratives shaping African photography today - from Leonard Pongo’s dreamlike landscapes that offer an alternative view of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Mário Macilau’s exploration of religious practices in contemporary Mozambique.
Amilton Neves Cuna (b. 1988, Mozambique)
Amilton Neves Cuna (b. 1988, Mozambique) is a photographer based in Maputo, Mozambique and Tampa, Florida, who examines contemporary societal issues using storytelling and documentary. His series ‘All that Glitters is not Gold’ documents the afterlife of Mozambique’s Grand Hotel, an iconic Art Deco complex. Built in the 1950s, the luxury hotel was turned into a military base during the Mozambican Civil War, then abandoned and transformed into an informal camp in the 1980s.
Anke Loots (b. 1991, South Africa)
Anke Loots (b. 1991, South Africa) grew up in Pretoria, South Africa. After graduating from Red & Yellow advertising school in Cape Town in 2012, she worked for six years as an assistant to award-winning photographer Pieter Hugo. She has since pursued and developed her own body of work, from street photography to portraiture which explores the people and landscapes she encounters on her travels around the world. The resulting images reflect on the impermanence of human existence, often in intimate, surrealist and meditative ways.
Léonard Pongo (b. 1988, Belgium)
Léonard Pongo (b. 1988, Belgium) is based between Brussels, Belgium and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). His photographic journey arose from a need to see the DRC from a different point of view than the often-depicted crises, instead documenting his experiences and celebrating people’s joy and dreams. Pongo’s on-going series ‘Primordial Earth’ explores the diversity of landscapes in the DRC, through allegorical representations of the country.
Mário Macilau (b. 1984, Mozambique)
Mário Macilau (b. 1984, Mozambique), is a self-taught photographer who started his photographic journey documenting the streets of Maputo, Mozambique. His long-term projects often focus on intimate portraits of marginalised communities and their reality and environment. In his series ‘Faith’, Macilau addresses animist practices in contemporary Mozambique whilst the series ‘Growing in Darkness’ delves into the social fabric of Maputo through local street children.
Nonzuzo Gxekwa (b. 1981, South Africa)
Nonzuzo Gxekwa (b. 1981, South Africa) is a Johannesburg-based photographer. Her approach to photography favours the everyday over the spectacular; sharing intimate moments through focusing the camera on what is around her as well as herself. Whether it is through street photography or in the studio, her work explores the human condition in subtle and beautiful ways, often seeking to revisit and reinterpret traditional ways of dressing and presenting oneself to the world.