“An everyday celebration of blackness” – says photographer Tatenda Chidora when asked about his style. Born in Zimbabwe then relocated to South Africa, he has become one of the most creative visual artists of his generation and a true representative of the global movement hailed as new African photography. Whether we are talking about commercial shoots, fashion editorials or the finest of fine art, the spark is always there in Tatenda’s work. His latest project for clothing brand Refuse, called Thwebula is no exception.
Tatenda has a deep love for making portraits for its opportunity to engage with a subject. “I try not to just photograph people,” he says. “I try to connect with them.” His muse is the everyday which he endeavours to translate and elevate through his lens. “Diversity means being open minded to hearing and experiencing, involving all of us in all our differences. Diversity is the listening out more to different backgrounds, gender, society and ethnicity.”
His artworks exist in a universe of vivid colors, deep contrasts held together by the force of nature, love. “Love means love! It is an expression towards anything and anyone without any agenda and condition,” he says “it is accompanied by strides of selflessness, kindness, humility, always looking out for the best in the next human being.”
Guided by this idea, Tatenda’s photography remains as contemporary as it gets, as he keeps on finding new ways to put the individual in a broader context – such as the pandemic. His striking visuals, often shot from new and unexpected angles make heroes of his subjects.
His photos are balancing on the verge of the unreal, but at the same time they do not abandon reality. The viewer is left with an assurance that whoever or whatever he’s looking at – even if it feels like a dream – is actually the real deal. Anyone can alter reality, but only a chosen few are capable of unfolding all of its layers. Tatenda is indeed one of them.
Photography @Tatenda Chidora
Creative Direction @Malcolm Mokgope & @Minenhle Memela
Styling @Mfundo Memela
Editing @Lungelo Shezi
Production @25th Avenue
Models @Blake Rampono IG: blakerampono, @Vukile Magwaza IG: iam_vukile, @Sihle sithole IG: Blxckie, @Nkululeko Masemola IG: nkuleymasemola