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Meet Multimedia Artist & Photographer Boipelo Khunou

 Meet Multimedia Artist & Photographer Boipelo Khunou

Khunou believes that her personal power is an awareness and sensitivity in representation during the process of making and sharing work.

Multimedia artist Boipelo Khunou’s interest in ‘the embodiment of personal power’ is translated across art mediums to engage ideas that speak to lived experiences. 

She told People’s Stories Project (PSP) that her life’s philosophy is – botaki ke botshelo – which loosely translates as artful living.  

It’s an outlook that guides a process of creation in which she sees herself as a witness, using that position to document and tell stories. 

She said she would rather be known as a multimedia artist than merely as a photographer. 

It allows room for possibility in terms of what I can create. I do, however, mostly use video and photographic media in my process. These are forms that I have been exploring for the past six years. My work is a form of documentation,” she said. 

Personal power and it’s reflection in the art 

Khunou believes that her personal power is an awareness and sensitivity in representation during the process of making and sharing work. 

She said: “I am becoming more intentional about how I use photography to document and create. Whenever I share images, I try to give the medium and the people involved in making the image, space, and authenticity. 

“Power works in multiple; I’m interested in seeing relationships between the elements that make up an image and which parts of those elements feel personal. 

“For example, when I worked on The Sovereign: Bontle ba Tlhago – it was the first time I photographed people nude. Each person came with their own approach, intentions, and vulnerabilities. I felt a responsibility to reflect them with integrity while simultaneously being willing to take risks and break down comfort levels. When I make images, I’m not always in control of the reception but I am in control of how I want to frame the image. This is a powerful position to be in…one I do not take lightly.

When it comes to her personal visual language, she believes it depends on the concept and the imagined outcome for the specific work. 

“I can’t place my practice in one set of understanding. I’m guided by the process and allowing that to unfold. Once I give myself space to think deeper about the reasons to create a specific work, I allow the process to guide the modes of communicating,” she said.

An ode to Johannesburg 

Khunou’s relationship with Johannesburg has been that of a space for her to observe and learn. 

She said: “It is an active city, in ways that other places are not. I’m interested in this activity – the rapid changes that occur. I learn the most when I am in-between places; taking taxis from different places of work, play, study, or moving through specific suburbs.  

“It’s adjusting to differences that inform how I think about space and the transformation in my work.” 

See more of her work here. 

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Ray Maota