Manyatsa Monyamane (b. 1989) is a visual storyteller, inspired and influenced by African literature, theatre, and everyday surroundings. Unpacking difficult themes, Monyamane's photography often brings attention to stories overlooked by the mainstream media.
Monyamane is currently completing a Master of Arts in Fine Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand.
She was a finalist at Pop Cap 2016 and, in 2017, a Multi & New Media Merit Award Winner for the Thami Mnyele Fine Arts Awards, as well as a Merit Award Winner for the Absa L'Atelier Awards. In 2018, she was announced as a finalist for the International Women Photographers Award, with a travelling exhibition in Dubai, New Delhi, Tokyo and Paris. A selection of works from the Pele Magareng Morago (Before During After) series were shown at 1-54 London 2020, and Philla from the Serithi Series was shown online at 1-54 Paris at Christie's.
SERITHI | THE AURA OF A BLACK WOMAN
When a confident black woman struts through a space, her presence is announced by the energy she exudes.
Her gait, attire and sheer elegance precedes her, forming unshakeable, roaring impressions in the minds of those looking on.
In the African culture you may hear someone utter "Mme o, ona le serithi" which loosely translates to "This woman has a powerful aura." She jolts you from your sense of comfort and compels you to lean forward and take notice of her, for she exists.
This project seeks to emphasise the erasure of black bodies, specifically the bodies of black women in modern history.
That we were not in an age where women of colour were able to sculpt their own narratives, voices or images; and that women of colour have not been encouraged to embrace their full beings as freely as should have been the case; resulted in a hypersexualised society discouraging the full expression of womanhood, particularly with women of colour.
Each woman in this series shows her different personality while maintaining her true sense of self.
This series embraces the multiple characteristics that makes each woman unique, embracing everything that comes with being a black woman.
PELE MAGARENG MORAGO | BEFORE DURING AFTER
What inspired this work was the wedding picture of our grandparents. "Our", meaning the grandchildren - my neighbours and friends - who grew up in the streets of South Africa's kasis.
Our grandparents – deathly still, no smiles, seemingly as pale as the background, and all of them dressed the same.
How can it be that in these wedding portraits, not a single one of them smiled?
What were they feeling – on the day of their union – just before the portrait was taken?
In the moment they were told not to smile, what feelings did they hide? Before the moment was captured, could they have been in a revelry, deeply in love, and yet slightly anxious about the invasive camera as if from the barrel of a gun?
A day of laughter and love, joy and merriment.
What did they feel as they were coached into this generic frame where their individuality was whited out and milked of vigour? And after? Once they had lost their colour?
Would they go back to the joyous state preceding the studio, or would they remain alienated?
Bagolo ba rena; ba ne ba ikutlwa byang?
This project is a reclamation of the life, absent in the portraits, of one of the most significant moments in the lives of our grandparents – their wedding day.
This day, reimagined, extends the moment beyond the portraits so often hanging in the homes in my street.
Through this series, the past comes into conversation with the present, finding a possible narrative located in the spaces between.
The past, present, and future collide; and we repossess the joy erased over time, breathing life back into the souls of our grandparents.
Shateeee! Yo a sa reng shate wa duma!
Press release courtesy THK Gallery .