Johannesburg has always been associated with a vibrancy, hustle and creative spirit that is kinetic. A city that moves in ways that pay homage to its past lives, while simultaneously rebuilding and redefining its own foundations. A large majority of this can be attributed to the young creatives who follow their raw ambitions. There is a new creative energy in the city that is making its presence known in the streets and online. An energy that permeates as a kind of renaissance that is plugged into an entrepreneurial, “I don’t need your approval” attitude. We have identified four young creatives who embody this creative energy.
Ketu Malesa is an artist and designer, and these creative practices bleed into one other. “My artistic viewpoint influences how I see clothing design. In essence, I view clothing as fine art.” Emphasizing the importance of fluidity in creative practice, particularly at such a young age, Ketu mentioned that he is still honing his artistic style or identity. However, in reference to this answer he mentioned his interests revolve around the fusion between art and fashion.
Making sure that his work speaks to the South African context, his designs take note from local style subcultures and codes. After expressing his focus is more on style rather than fashion and fashion direction rather than styling, Ketu unpacked his sources of stylistic inspiration. “I’m inspired by style eras, subcultures and style codes as well as everyday mundane style and beauty. I’m also inspired by the past and how it influences the future. Urban youth are also inspiring and how they express themselves.”
Acknowledging a new creative energy in Johannesburg, Ketu shared that this is visible in the way that young people are taking ownership of their ideas. Mentioning his membership of the collective Bushkoppies, he sees their DIY ethos as a nod to this shift brought in by young creatives. His designs for Bushkoppies are an extension of the larger framework within which he positions his work – the questioning and reworking of sartorial and artistic norms and foundations.
Bradley Sekiti is a dancer who feels that movement is an expansion of emotions and energetic alignments. In grade 10 he realized that he wanted to be a part of the creative industry in Johannesburg. “After doing a couple of shows for the Johannesburg Youth Ballet (the company that I am under) and for the school [NSA] I realised that it was going better than I expected , and I thought why not.” Channeling the positive sonic vibrations of FAKA and Solange, Bradley continues to invest time and effort into improving his skills.
Having featured in Mykki Blanco’s film Out of this World his confidence about openly expressing his identity has exploded, and this filters into his approach to dance. “The queer culture is supportive to a certain extent because of the platforms that are presented for us to be ourselves, such as Cunty Power and others which gives us a sense of belonging. Those have been the places I’ve been feeding off from because I get to see other people’s success which is inspiring.”
At the moment he is working on how to use dance in a way that has never been explored before, which he plans to share later this year.
Anne-Marie is a young multi-disciplinary artist born in Zimbabwe and currently calls Johannesburg her home. Her mediums of self-expression span from ink, pen and print making to photographic documentation. Having lived in various parts of the world she expresses that her formative years were distinguished by an ever-changing environment and a characteristic thrill of uncertainty.
Many of Anne-Marie’s artworks reflect on childhood memories influenced by the various places and spaces she has inhabited over the years. Using memories as the backbone to her practice, she examines the role that they play in the formation of personal identity.
This has manifested into an experimental film project at present, involving the burning of negative images and relates to the wear and tear time inflicts upon memory. The negatives she explains, are symbolic to these memories and her forced intervention signifies the ease with which memories can be altered with the passing of time. Thereby regarding time as a powerful destructive force capable of altering our understanding of the past. “I aim to make artworks that contemplate the past whilst facing the brevity of the future. What you forget is as important as what you remember.” Anne-Marie is concerned with pushing the limits of what can be considered as a photograph. An ideal aspiration that she is already starting to conquer.
Jemma Rose is a young creative predominantly known for her photographic expression. A suburban childhood had isolated her from the harsher realities of South Africa. Her realization of this sheltered-ness transpired into the objectives of her practice. “I started taking photos to try and understand everything around me.”
Her message encapsulates topics such as mental health and queer identity. Recently she has started looking at another point of interest, photographing confusing subject matter. “My aim is to make people question why things are the way they are.”
Describing herself as an image recorder navigated by gut, Jemma regards photography as a therapeutic practice that eases her experiences of anxiety. Johannesburg has influenced the way in which she thinks about her projects. Currently she is interested in public space and definitions of “safe space” for various womxn from varying milieus.
Jemma’s work features her friends, dog Lula and anyone she can persuade to pose for her. Aspiring to become more self-focused this year, the young image maker has a promising future ahead of her. In short Jemma’s work indicates a mastering of her own photographic style and can only be described as a feeling.