The National Art Gallery of Namibia (NAGN) will be hosting a solo exhibition by Kyle Weeks opening next Tuesday in the Upper Gallery of the NAGN.
Kyle Weeks was born in Namibia, and is currently living and working in Cape Town, South Africa as a photographer. Weeks studied photography at the Stellenbosch University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Photography in 2013. He is also co-founder of Cape Collective Assist, an agency that services the photographic stills industry in South Africa by offering professional photographic assistants.
Making up Kyle’s first solo exhibition in Namibia, this show brings together two series’ of photographic portraits that span four years of collaboration with Ovahimba men. The two distinct bodies of work are linked by subject matter and location, both having taken place in the north of Namibia (the Kunene region) and both depicting Ovahimba men. In both photographic series. Kyle looks at the dynamics of representation and identity formation through the complex lens of photography.
According to an article on www.itsnicethat.com Kyle has visited the Kunene region of northern Namibia and photographed the Ovahimba who live there. For this part of the project, he’s handed the camera over to the locals to create a series of captivating self-portraits they had complete control over. “When I had previously photographed Himba people, I had inadvertently adopted a kind of fleeting, unfiltered touristic eye, characterised by the search for visual difference,” says Kyle in the interview. “I recognised that images of this culture were incredibly prolific, but that none that I had seen were contributing in any way to the documentation of their contemporary cultural identity. The rift between the representation and realities of these people became profoundly apparent.”
Kyle sought to challenge the usual power dynamic between sitter and photographer with this set of portraits, allowing each of the men to control the shutter release. For the photographer this reduced his influence over the resulting images and allowed them to portray their own identities for the camera. “In doing so we get to see these young men, as they want to be seen: traditional, contemporary and proud of whom they are,” says Kyle. “It calls for an end to preconceived visual assumptions, as the hybridisation of their culture no longer facilitates such a clear-cut distinction between traditional and contemporary cultural identity.”
Kyle has been awarded the Fine Art Single Image 2016 Magnum Photography Award for one of the images that will be on display recently. He will give an artist talk about his work next Friday at 16h00 at the NAGN. The solo exhibition runs until August 27.