Phumzile Khanyile was born in 1991 in Soweto, a township of Johannesburg, South Africa. Interested in creating images since her childhood, she studied photography at the Market Photo Workshop in 2013. Two years later, she received the Gisèle Wulfsohn Mentorship in Photography prize, which allowed her working with American photographer Ayana V. Jackson. Under her mentorship, Khanyile created Plastic Crowns (2016), a series of indoors self-portraits captured in her grandmother’s clothes to illustrate the expectations she carried from her grandma around what it means to be a woman. She used different symbols such as balloons representing various sexual partners, probing the relevance in contemporary society about stereotypical ideas around promiscuity, sexual preference, and related stigmas. Her works mainly explore themes related to female identity, sexuality, and social expectations.
Buhlebezwe Siwani was born in 1987 in Johannesburg, South Africa, and currently lives and works between Cape Town and Amsterdam. She completed her studies at the Wits School of Arts in 2011 and the Michaelis School of Fine Arts in 2015. Siwani works mainly with performance, sculpture, and installation, and often includes photographic stills and videos of some performances. She uses videos and the stills as a stand in for her body when she is physically absent from the space. Her work questions the patriarchal framing of Black women within the South African context. She also explores the relationship between religion and African spirituality, touching social and political topics. In the series Mnguni (2019), Siwani performed a traditional ritual after setting in Netherlands, calling on the ancestors to help her in this transition. She embodies the role of a Sangoma – a traditional spiritual healer from South Africa, in front of the camera and creates timeless images that enclose the practice.
Nicole Rafiki was born in 1989 in Kinshasa, DR Congo, and works between Johannesburg and Oslo. As an interdisciplinary artist, she reimagines and challenges the stereotypical depiction of spaces, issues of displacement, and people affected by global migration. She views her work as a platform for dialogues about identity, fluidity, place, and belonging. Rafkiki’s artworks move between photography, textile, text, beadwork, and the use of memorial objects old and new. Rafiki treats art making as a practice of remembrance, healing, and cultural analysis. Her series The King Herself (2022) describes the process of mourning that she experienced after the loss of both her grandmothers. Having settled in Norway for many years, she was planning her homecoming in order to study traditional artistic symbols and practices known by her elders. The sudden loss of both of them right before this moment of reunion left the artist with a sense of severance from her roots.