Plastic Crowns, Market Photo Workshop, Johannesburg, South Africa
Investec Cape Town Art Fair, Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town, South Africa
Bamako Encounters, 11th Edition, AFROTOPIA, Bamako, Mali
Paris Photo, MAGNIN-A/ AFRONOVA GALLERY, Grand palais, Paris
1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Pioneer Works, New York, USA
Diapositive Afrotopia, Art Africa Magazine, December 2017
Afrotopia in Pictures, Elephant, November 2017
Les Rencontres de Bamako, Arte, November 2017
Female Photographers at Paris Photo 2017, Collector Daily, November 2017
Aperture Members Celebrate the Launch of “Platform Africa”, Aperture, May 2017
Learning Political Lessons at the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Hyperallergic, May 2017
The third edition of 1:54 NY Contemporary African Art Fair, The Eye of Photography, May 2017
Phumzile Khanyile, Art Forum, February 2017
Plastic Crowns: a narrative as self-portrait by Phumzile Khanyile, Between 10 and 5, February 2017
Phumzile Khanyile – Plastic Crowns, In Your Pocket, February 2017
When the photographer turns the camera on herself, Sunday Times, April 2016
Born in Soweto in 1991. Lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Phumzile Khanyile is a Market Photo Workshop graduate originally from Soweto. She is the recipient of the 2015 Gisèle Wulfsohn Mentorship in Photography, a developmental platform and opportunity to continue activism through photography in the spirit of late South African documentary photographer Gisèle Wulfsohn. This afforded the young artist the opportunity to produce a body of work under the guidance of renowned photographer Ayana V. Jackson.
What followed was Plastic Crowns.
“Plastic Crowns stems from the idea of taking a perceived “prestigious” ornament such as a royal or beauty pageant crown and turning it into an object that anyone can purchase and thus enthrone themselves. It is the constant reconception and reinvention of the self.
I explore beyond the tragic boundaries of what my grandmother would consider a “good woman”, probing stereotypical ideas of gender, sexual preference and related stigmas and their relevance in contemporary society. I am interested in how having multiple partners (balloons) can be an expression of choice as opposed to it being an indicator of low morality, based on societal conventions.
This body of work is a journey of self-discovery. Being raised by my grandmother who had stereotypical ideas of what it means to be a woman often left me feeling suffocated. I find it ironic that such ideas never worked out for her; I took photographs inside the house she received as a divorce settlement while she preached to me that time was running out for me to get married. My grandmother never understood photography so I would photograph in secret whenever she was at church or asleep.
Going through my family album and seeing how curated it was, I wanted to unveil the dysfunction and speak about what really happens behind closed doors.
I keep a journal regarding what I am going through internally, which is influenced by both memory and the present; how I remember the women in my family from my childhood and teenage years, and the realisation that what I took for strength at the time was actually survival.
Looking back it is ridiculous that women in my grandmother’s day would sneak off to the bathroom to hide the fact that they were smoking, but it’s also funny how the smell would escape through the doors and windows. I remember that smell.
Placing headscarves and a chiffon dress over my camera mimicked the feeling of film, but also allowed me to view the space differently, disrupted, which echoed what I already felt.
This work is me wrestling.
What if we allowed girls to sit with their legs open too..”