Veleko, Nontsikelelo (Lolo)


South African, b. 1977; lives and works in Nîmes, France


Known for her sustained affiliation with the Market Photo Workshop, a Johannesburg-based institution founded by David Goldblatt in 1989, Nontsikelelo "Lolo" Veleko has risen to prominence over the past decade by virtue of her formal command of color and gesture, as well as her ecstatic engagement with the rapidly evolving vernacular of post-apartheid street- and subcultures of Johannesburg. In its earliest years, Goldblatt's Market Photo Workshop was committed to a program of democratic vision: practical and technical aspects of the photographic practice were taught and learned through the vocabulary of social documentary photography. Veleko's practice has clearly carried along this legacy of principled representation, yet signals a vibrant new generation of contemporary photographers, artists, musicians, and designers, all collectively engaged with accounting for the proliferation of hybrid identities, postures, positions, and constructions that elude otherwise straightforward classification. At a practical level, this means that Veleko's photographic eye has tracked graffiti artists, street style, and self-fashioned individuals across Johannesburg's contemporary landscape. Her images are immediately recognizable by virtue of their explosive color; through informal (yet never completely uncalculated) gesture, her subjects carry themselves in poses that confront the viewer, their confident gazes returning to our own. A sense of nearly defiant subjectivity is abound in Veleko's work—her 2004 series, Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder suggests comparisons to the wholly sovereign gazes returned by the figures populating Seydou Keïta's mid-century Bamako studio portraits.

Artworks by Veleko, Nontsikelelo (Lolo)

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