Iliso Labantu photographer Sipho Mpongo is heading off on TwentyJourney, a four-month cross country trip to photograph the Born Free generation. He and his collaborators have launched a KICKSTARTER campaign to pay for fuel and food and TwentyJourney. We caught up with him on the eve of his departure.
Q: You and two friends are off in a camper van for four months. How did this trip come about?
A: It was an idea that Sean and Wikus came up with when they did a short trip in Orania last year, they were like “Dude, imagine if we do this for couple of months across South Africa”. I joined them after their trip and we conceptualized our specific themes and styles of photographing. It’s been 8months planning this trip.
Q: You are setting out to document the "born-frees", the generation born, like you, at the end of apartheid rule. Why this framework for your trip?
A: Apartheid rules still haunt my family. I have to find forgiveness because it was not my fault. I will investigate the struggles and wonders that comes with being a born free in South Africa in an anthropological way and remain open to racial differences, as this is a huge issue. I intend to spend some time with ‘Born Frees’ and understand them based on their community history and personal history as it intersects with their family history. Will they allow themselves to be defined by the scars of apartheid, or will they embrace freedom, choice and opportunity? Born-frees are the future and I want to focus on the future.
Q: You are following in the steps -- or rather tracks -- of South African photographer David Goldblatt who has been making trips across the country in his camper van for many years. Goldblatt has been photographing the way in which apartheid has imprinted the landscape. How has Goldblatt's work influenced you?:
David’s work has always influenced my ways of seeing the landscape rather than looking at the landscape – paying attention to detail. I truly admire how David Goldblatt writes about his work. I am going that route for this project. I'll be interviewing people, recording their stories and sometimes capturing their stories on video.
See more of Sipho's work here.