“I believe these spaces speak volumes about the people that inhabit them. The arrangement of personal possessions in a room is reflective of the personality of its resident. Each room has a historical context, chronicling the lives of the people that interact daily in those spaces.”
The legend that is Andrew Tshabangu
Born in Soweto in 1966, Andrew Tshabangu’s is renowned for his photographs documenting the rituals of black communities in urban Africa. His work has been showcased in exhibitions worldwide and has touched the hearts of people everywhere. He has a unique fascination of normal peoples living spaces; photographing the interiors without the physical presence of the inhabitants.
The road to photography
Originally, Andrew applied to the Department of Drama at the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS) during the late 80’s. He didn’t get accepted and found that he needed to submit some form of artwork as part of the application. It was then that Andrew decided to apply at the Alexandra Community Art Centre to acquire the needed skills to create an artwork to use as an applications piece for Drama at WITS. “Through the evolving nature of my studies at the Community Art Centre that my involvement with photography started because I thought to myself that it’s easy to ‘just press a button’.”
Finding my voice
Little did he realize that this very thought would change his life forever! After finishing his studies at the Community Centre he started freelancing for New Nation (a publication now discontinued). It was while working there that he realized that he has to break away from photojournalism and become an independent photographer. Reading up on history, art, music, spirituality etc. has helped him develop his own voice as African photographer.
A new generation of South African photographers
The younger photographers of today are making an immense contribution to photography and art in general; thus, Andrew believes that the future of South African photography is in the safe hands of the new generations.
“Above all, one hopes that photography in this country will contribute to the project of nation building and humanism around the world.”
Currently, Andrew is working on a project titled ‘This water is ours’ for the future, there is a pipeline project called ‘Soweto on my mind’ which is inspired by Langston Hughes’s ‘Harlem on my mind’.
Andrew Tshabangu, though proud of his many achievements, is still a humble man with creative and inspirational projects planned for the future. We hope he keeps us up to date with his work so we can share them with you in the near future.