Disrupting assumptions of masculinity in the contemporary African context through subtle expressions of identity and gender, the practices of Igshaan Adams, Sabelo Mlangeni, and Cinga Samson share a sensitive approach toward material and process, with a common strand of spirituality running through their work.
Combining aspects of performance, weaving, sculpture and installation that draw upon his upbringing, Igshaan Adams’s practice is an ongoing investigation into hybrid identity, particularly in relation to race and sexuality. The quiet activism of Adams’s work speaks to his experiences of racial, religious and sexual liminality. He uses the material and formal iconographies of Islam and ‘coloured’ culture to develop a more equivocal, phenomenological approach towards these concerns and offer a novel, affective view of cultural hybridity.
Working mainly in a black and white format, Sabelo Mlangeni’s photographs have focused on capturing the intimate, everyday moments of ‘outsider’ communities in both urban and rural South Africa. Largely focused on black youth and society, Mlangeni draws on his own experiences of marginality, challenging the distance that conventionally separates photographer and subject. Developed from film and printed by hand, Mlangeni’s photographs embrace the chance processes inherent in the medium, giving the images an ephemeral quality.
A self-taught artist, Cinga Samson addresses themes of beauty, youth and blackness in figurative oil paintings that depict self- and group portraits. Arranged in traditional compositions, his portraits are set in brooding environments that are constructs of real and imagined landscapes: recollections from the artist’s rural upbringing as well as dreams. The uncannily vacant eyes of Samson's subjects are suggestive of an inward gaze that is juxtaposed by the literalness of their branded clothing, creating a complex vision of black African masculinity and sexual identity.