the everyday waiting comprises a selection of photographs taken by emerging South African photographer Jabulani Dhlamini during the past four months of national lockdown in South Africa.
This photographic essay extends on the emerging photographer’s characteristically contemplative approach to documentary photography, looking at the psychological impact of COVID-19 on South Africans living in confined spaces in the photographer’s community, Soweto.
According to a recent article in the British Journal of Photography about this lockdown series, “Jabulani Dhlamini is drawn to peripheries. He avoids the epicentre of an event or situation and turns to its fringes: exploring impacts and effects that would otherwise remain unknown.”
For Dhlamini "Shooting my surroundings at this time led me to understand that this pandemic is starkly highlighting entrenched social and economic problems. After 25 years, what has changed in South Africa’s townships and rural areas? Not enough.”
In 2018, Dhlamini was selected by the Financial Times to document his life for 24 hours for The millennials series, which coincided with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s funeral. Rather than shoot the national memorial event held at the Orlando stadium, Dhlamini focused on informal street-gatherings surrounding the stadium in Soweto. “When everyone is running towards a certain event, we lose some of the meaningful narratives,” he explains.
Dhlamini’s approach, avoiding the major events and focusing on more subtle displays of human experience and interaction, is reminiscent of that of his predecessor David Goldblatt who mentored Dhlamini. For the young photographer, this was a crucial relationship: “getting to know him [David Goldblatt] personally was a turning point in my practice, as the relationship nurtured my understanding of photography like no other”.
Jabulani Dhlamini (b. 1983, Free State, South Africa) lives and works in Johannesburg. Dhlamini majored in documentary photography at the Vaal University of Technology, graduating in 2010. From 2011-2012, Dhlamini was a fellow of the Edward Ruiz Mentorship and completed a year-long residency at the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg. Dhlamini’s work focuses on his upbringing, as well as the way he views contemporary South Africa.
Dhlamini’s Umama series was exhibited as part of his Edward Ruiz award at the Market Photo Workshop in 2012, and at Goodman Gallery Cape Town in 2013 – his first solo exhibition with the gallery. In Umama, Dhlamini pays homage to single mothers and explores the challenges faced by women raising children on their own in South African townships. For his Recaptured series, which was exhibited at Goodman Gallery in 2016, Dhlamini turned to the community of Sharpeville, asking people to bring objects that reminded them of the 1960 massacre. Over the course of several years Dhlamini interviewed and photographed a number of individuals who traced their movements and emotions on the day of the Sharpeville Massacre, relocating themselves within the collective memory.
In 2018 Dhlamini’s work was featured on the Five Photographers, A Tribute to David Goldblatt group exhibition at the Gerard Sekoto Gallery at the French Institute. In his most recent exhibition at Goodman Gallery, iXesha!, Dhlamini explored how memory is created and archived within a community where the memory has been localised. This exhibition included images from Dhlamini’s recent series iQhawekazi documenting the events around Winnie Mandela’s funeral.