Today we chat with Cape Town based photographer and video maker, Sydelle Willow Smith. Enjoy!
Who is Sydelle Willow Smith and what do you do?
I am a 26 year old female photographer/video maker based in Cape Town originally from Johannesburg, that believes that visual mediums have the power to provoke and make a social commentary or impact about the realities of everyday life, that many may not have paid attention to before. I studied Anthropology (Honors) at UCT, also focusing on Video Production and Film Theory. I work for a variety of clients and organisations including Redbull, Virgin Active, The African Centre for Cities, Greenpop amongst others.
How would you define your style or art?
I am heavily influenced by documentary photographers and filmmakers, and “artists” whatever that classification means, who are unafraid to confront social stagnation through play and provocation.
What inspires your work?
South Africa’s complex social landscape and the individual and collective ways people navigate it, make sense of it, make or break home in it. I am interested in showing positive experiences that do not ignore the difficulties, while I want my work to be serious, I also photograph things based purely on beautiful light, or a fun moment. My influences include Alec Soth, Susan Meirelles, Alex Webb, Malik Sidebe, Jim Goldberg and the films of Fernando Meirelles, Jim Jarmusch,and the writings of Jonathan Fraezer and Ben Okri.
Researcher/Camera Operator at Makhulu Productions
What are you currently working on?
I am the 2012 recipient of the Gisele Wulfsohn Mentorship at The Market Photo Workshop and winner of a residency award from The Africa Centre to attend Jiwar Creation and Society in Barcelona in November. http://www.marketphotoworkshop.co.za/content/page/gisele-wulfsohn-mentorship-in-photography
These opportunities are allowing me to complete a body of work that focuses on the ways immigrants from other African countries and local South Africans are coming together, as friends, lovers, business partners, integrating and experiencing social inclusion and belonging. I am interested in documenting the otherside of the coin to xenophobia – conviviality, with the hope that documenting them, exposing them, will breed a greater culture of togetherness in someway by telling stories of everyday life of individuals. The project is called Making Neighbourhood, and will potentially be exhibited in October in Johannesburg, and then I am aiming to have a public exhibition of the work next year in congested areas, like train stations.
What advice would you give young creatives looking to do what you do?
Its tough, you have to be focused, ambitious, work well with all kinds of people, deliver on your promises, and never give up.
Where can our readers follow your work?
Current Location: Cape Town, South Africa
+27 83 7137955