Tatenda Chidora "Until We Safe" & Reflections on Zenophobia in South Africa

Tatenda Chidora is a Zimbabwean, Johannesburg-based photographer who started his photography journey in 2010; thereafter he enrolled at TUT University in 2012 to study the craft. His current exhibition "Until We Safe" is currently showing at BKhz gallery till 3 October 2019.


Tatenda uses photography to have a visual conversation about the striking beauty of black skin. He draws inspiration from the people and places he encounters in everyday life, capturing intoxicating portraits and breath-taking architectural shots of Johannesburg monuments.


Tatenda's current exhibition is occurring on the heels of xenophobic attacks in central Johannesburg and specific townships in the city, these attacks have been targeted at African immigrants and occurred earlier this month.


Reflecting on these events Tatenda explains that one of the images in his body of work is titled Assimilation and the narrative behind this image is; guidance and allowing one to guide and lead. "This image shows the need for one another. The contrast in colour defines difference but there is an element of a grey line that runs through us even if we are different. We need each other. We need to take off the veil that covers us from looking through humanity. There is that need of that metamorphosis from the blindness and ignorance to tap into the humanness that runs in everyone. As a photographer the biggest drive in my portraiture is to reflect the beauty in my subjects. I love connecting with my subjects and hearing their life stories. My greatest desire is for them to grow confidence in themselves and love who they are. Whether they are othered or marginalised they still are wonderfully created".


Assimilation



Xenophobia in South Africa occurred prior to 1994, where immigrants from African countries faced discrimination and violence, after the end of apartheid and the dawn of democratic South Africa, xenophobia is perceived to have increased (despite a lack of directly comparable data). Therefore the visibility of work from photographers like Tatenda challenges the divides and Afrophobia within South African communities.


The young photographer's body of work for his current exhibition, "Until We Safe is a collection of visuals created over a span of a few years. "This body of work is around the male body because I tend to photograph male figures all the time as a photographer. I love placing myself in a subject that I can be able to account an answer for. So I believe that as a man we have been given (physical) power and the power can be used for either good or bad. Until we safe with whom we are then, we can be trusted with this power."