Nemakhavhani is an emerging creative working towards transforming the South African art scene. Her latest work, The Honey, is a three-part photographic collaboration with photographer Kgomotso Neto. The series tells the story of a woman who is in charge of her life.
“She basically does whatever she wants, she is very determined and very deliberate. She is my alter ego. So all the things that I feel like I can’t always be, she can be those things freely. In the photos we show the different aspects of her life,” Nemakhavhani explains.
“The biggest thing for me was to create something that was very very beautiful and could be kept, and I wanted people to be interested in it,” she adds.
“I don’t want to say that it is a feminist project or anything like that, because it is for all people who feel like they can relate to what is happening.”
What began as a series of illustrations exhibited at the Kalashnikov Gallery in Braamfontein has received serious recognition. The duo won the Creative Nestlings African Collaboration 2015 award for the series.
“I worked with a guy because that is what I wanted. I wanted someone who sees women outside of being a woman because if I worked with a female photographer I feel like it wouldn’t come out the same,” she explains.
“Right now what I am trying to do is to become more accessible, because art isn’t all that accessible to black people. It is always shown in spaces where people can’t go to, or people can’t understand what is going on. So what I am trying to do is to create work that people can relate to, that is as inclusive of as many people as possible,” says Nemakhavani who was one of the emerging creatives invited to exhibit at Design Indaba in 2015
The third instalment of the series is more cinematic and reminiscent of Yizo-Yizo, a popular and controversial South African drama series first aired in 1999, which portrayed the gritty reality of township life. Featuring serious themes of gangsterism, gender relations, violence and crime, the series told the story of a marginalised people, and resonated with many.
“The last one we just did was about Honey’s love life and how she is involved in gangsterism because her boyfriend is a gangster, which makes her a bit of a gangster as well. However, she is still able to carry herself as a woman and she doesn’t have to conform to be like him. At the end of the day, she is the queen of the kingdom and she has the power to say ‘this works or this doesn’t work.
“What I want to do is tell a South African narrative according to my life. I don’t want to dictate to anyone and say ‘this is how art should be’. If you feel like you want to do something, go ahead and do it in a way that represents you best and makes you stand out,” Nemakhavhani concludes.