In all African countries, there is now a generation that has no direct memories of colonisation, and in South Africa there is a generation of young people who were born after the first free and democratic elections. They are known as “born frees”.
This portrait series, is of such young South Africans. They live in a country, and a continent, that despite new found freedoms, still has many challenges facing it; ranging from unequal distribution of wealth, racial issues, high unemployment and corruption.
The young of the new South Africa, and indeed many of the young in modern Africa today, often use fashion orientated elements to present their vision of their new world – this can be seen in much of the photographic imagery and art emanating out of Africa today.
Making reference to the trend of fashion-centric imagery, and the “visual language” it often represents, I have embellished these images with lines, marks and colouring, but in a slightly subversive manner, to disrupt the conventional perspective associated with the medium and the subject matter, and in a nuanced way convey deeper meaning to the imagery.
The “lines” traversing the eyes, ears and mouths are intended as visual metaphors inferring both the restrictions and injustices of the colonial and apartheid past, but also – in the present sense – the imperative for this new generation (as with all new generations, everywhere) to: “look”, “listen” and “speak out!”
In his printed work, Chris Kirby often embellishes his images with lines, marks and colouring to disrupt the conventional perspective associated with the medium and the subject matter – and in a nuanced way convey deeper meaning to the imagery.