Thokoza Photographer to Showcase South Africa’s Reality at Recontres d’Arles Photography Festival

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Award-winning Of Soul and Joy Alumni Tshepiso Mazibuko Nominated for

Discovery Award at Prestigious Rencontres d’Arles Photography Festival

 “We’re so proud of Tshepiso on this recognition. Her nomination for this award is a testament to her exceptional talent and the impact of her work on the global stage…”

Tshepiso Mazibuko, a former student of the social and artistic mentorship programme Of Soul and Joy has been announced as one of the nominees for the esteemed Discovery Award at the upcoming Rencontres d’Arles summer photography festival in France.

Of Soul & Joy is a social and artistic mentorship program dedicated to empowering young South Africans through creativity. By providing mentorship, training, and support, the program aims to cultivate artistic expression and storytelling skills among the youth, enabling them to have a positive impact on their communities. Through photography and various art forms, Of Soul & Joy encourages dialogue and addresses pressing social issues while celebrating the unique voices and perspectives of South Africa’s youth.

The theme of the 54th edition of Rencontres d’Arles, “A State of Consciousness,” underscores the festival’s dedication to exploring the multifaceted ways in which photography can document and contemplate the world around us. This year’s festival aims to serve as a platform for artists to engage with pressing social issues and showcase diverse perspectives.

Out of a pool of 300 applicants, Tshepiso has been selected, highlighting the exceptional talent and creative vision demonstrated in her submitted project. The winner of the Discovery Award, which first launched in 2021, will receive €15,000, showcasing the festival’s commitment to recognising and supporting emerging photographers. Her work will subsequently be exhibited alongside other selected projects during the festival.

Tshepiso’s project, Ho tshepa ntshepedi ya bontshepe, considers how the political designation of ‘bornfree’ has impacted the post-1994 generation of South Africa’s black youth. Derived from the Sesotho proverb meaning ‘to expect something that will never happen’, the work considers the paradoxical nature of this title and how, due to the structural remnants of apartheid, this freedom has not been fully realised. Born into this generation herself, Tshepiso uses herself as subject, considering her own relationships to her community and how this has been shaped by the societal constructs she was born into.

“We’re so proud of Tshepiso on this recognition. Her nomination for this award is a testament to her exceptional talent and the impact of her work on the global stage. As an alumni of Of Soul and Joy, she embodies the program’s mission of empowering young South Africans through creativity, using photography as a means of self-expression and social change,” says Of Soul and Joy project manager and mentor Jabulani Dhlamini.

Thokoza-based Tshepiso’s journey in photography began in 2012 when she joined the Of Soul and Joy Photo Project as one of its first students, discovering her passion and talent for the medium. Completing her studies in photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg in 2016, Tshepiso has had her work exhibited at the Ithuba Art Gallery in Johannesburg, The Ghent photo-festival in Belgium, Gallery A MaGNIN’, The Turbine Art Fair, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Warren Editions in Cape Town, and the Addis Foto Fest in Ethiopia, among others.

Tshepiso received the prestigious Tierney Fellowship in 2017 and the Prince Claus Fund grant in 2018, cementing her status as a rising star in contemporary photography.

The festival, known as one of Europe’s premier photography events, will take place from 1 July to 29 September 2024.

By Sinenzolo Mondi – Nduku