The end-of-year series on Documentary Photography students continues with Giya Makondo-Wills and her pictures of belief in South Africa, 'They came from the water while the world watched,' a title that conjures up Coetzee and Waiting for the Barbarians.
Giya is half British, half South African and these pictures are another mix, showing the division and fusion of Christian beliefs with traditional pre-colonial beliefs. It's a curious mix in which the two sit in both syncretic synthesis but also in occasional conflict, a synthesis and conflict which might be mirrored in Giya's British and South African identities.
Read below for Giya's take on the project.
‘They Came From The Water While The World Watched’
by Giya Makondo-Wills
These photographs depict indigenous South African Ancestral belief and Christianity, in relation to missionary activity and the colonisation of the country. The title, ‘They Came From The Water While The World Watched’ is a reference to the initial arrival of European colonisers in South Africa and the indifference of the Western world towards the perpetration of this act.
This work looks from a new perspective regarding Documentary Photography and the Western gaze. Being both British and South African, I address the clash of beliefs from the point of view of the coloniser and the colonised, whilst exploring the sanctity of keeping traditional beliefs alive and their adaptation to the world we know today.
The complex interplay between Christianity and Ancestral religion manifest within my own family, where it is common practice to call on God and The Gods. With this dual perspective, I discuss the symbiotic relationship between cultural elements and the resilience of pre-colonial customs in a modern guise.
See more work by Giya here.
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And see their work on show opening 16th June at Seen Fifteen Gallery, Peckham. We'd love to see you there so come and say hello!
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