Lunga Ntila’s creative is highly slept on. She’s one to look out for in 2018.
I’ve come across enough artists and creatives in my lifetime to know what’s good (no pun intended) and what’s lacking in their work or has been overdone, rather.
Lunga, in her low-keyness, understands execution, conceptual thoughts, and the complexity of intersectionality in her work. On the topic of intersectionality, it’s more important now more than ever to look at it boldly.
We need to break down the jargon a little, as it seems to go over a lot of people’s heads – still. 🙃
Intersectionality is a concept that’s often used in critical theories to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions, such as race, sexuality, gender, classism, homophobia, etc. are interconnected.
With intersectionality comes the conversation of feminism.
The problem with the ‘new age feminism’ is that the conversation has always been voiced out by white women in the digital world. Although the likes of Beyoncè and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, for example, have progressively changed that narrative over the last few years.
Feminism has also always been inextricably linked to developments in technology. Thanks to mass printing, suffragettes at the start of the 20th century were able to produce newspapers like Votes for Women, which they sold or left on public transport in the hope of converting curious readers to their cause.
During the glory years of 70s counterculture, underground periodicals like Spare Rib offered an unvarnished alternative to preening glossies like Cosmopolitan.
This conversation also ties in with how these socio-political experiences can come through to contemporary art or creative concepts. And with that comes subjectivity, it might mean different things to a lot of people, but if we bring the conversation back to Lunga, her intention is to tell stories that matter.
These are not blatant manifestos. They do not scream at you like Twitter Feminism. They’re passive and just, as you scroll down her Instagram feed or read her Tweets.
As per usual, I got to ask Lunga a few questions regarding her ideas, who she is, and what’s next in her life.
1. For those who might not know you, who is Lunga Ntila? What does she do?
I am a 22-year-old, proudly Xhosa girl, currently and a student at Vega doing her BA in Creative Brand Communications. People have always called me a peculiar girl, but look now, it’s working to my advantage. I like telling stories, I do this via self-portraits, photography and sometimes I write, soon I will be writing films.
2. You show a lot of your expressions through self-portraits and photography, what are some of the ideas behind your concepts?
I’ll explain some of the concepts I’ve done. The first one is called DEFINE BEAUTY.
“DEFINE BEAUTY” is inspired by the series put out by digital publication NOWNESS, where they “unpick the politics and prejudices of attraction”. I decided to do my own rendition of it where I take the images which I had curated myself and distorted them to form another form of beauty. Also, people on my Instagram only liked my pictures when I posted my face the moment it became something else they weren’t such big fans. So this is me bridging the gap.
“I THOUGHT WE WAS COOL LIKE THAT” – I bumped into a guy I went to high school with, we hugged one another and went on with our lives, I see him later with his friends, and he smacks my ass. Surprised by my reaction he goes “I thought we was cool like that “.
The multiple hands grabbing on to my breast, thighs, and ass are a representation of how some men think that everything is theirs to take. It is a visual manifestation of how men perpetuate a state of violating one’s space or ones property and how they have these expectations for women to understand them at all times, even when you feel uncomfortable. AKA perpetuating rape culture and patriarchy.
“REIMAGINING AND IMAGINING” – Art has always been used as a visual manifestation of the times that we find ourselves in. We look at these visuals to gain a greater understanding of the history that forms part of our current story. As like everything that is documented in history, the representation of black people (especially women) is scarce.
Plenty of times I have re-imagined these prominent art pieces where black people are either not represented or misrepresented. The construction of these images is deliberately made to look like amateur edits, to put more emphasis on the concept of me placing myself on these images and re-imagining myself in those situations.
3. Does your culture influence you and your creative work in any way?
My perspective is derived from my culture, mannerism of how I view things. Culture informs the senses, as an individual your perspective revolves around your senses, how something you’ve experienced via your senses might inspire you, making you express something creatively, for someone else to come and experience with their senses.
It could be something you hear or that album you listened to (hearing). It could be that book you read, or the movie you watched (sight), the fabric you felt designed by your peer (touch) etc., all of these things form part of our culture. Even when we plunder from the world we are taking from a culture we identify with. Vivian Westwood once said in an interview with i-D “Let’s plunder from the world” we reference history all the time, designers do this too. A better example of how Kendrick Lemar referenced Gordon Parks in his Element music video. It is inevitable for culture to influence you.
[Laughs]. Those that say it doesn’t is lying, they just taking from a different culture than the one they are surrounded by or taking from a different time. The world is our oyster, honey, and it is up to us to actively grab those pearls.
5. What does the future look like to you, or for you, rather?
The future looks less fearful to me which makes it so much better because it feels like I am open for more blessings, I am grateful that I have gained a better understanding of myself creatively through the dark times of 2017.
I am going to peruse the arts – the title artist scares me, but at this point, I am going to run with it and see where it takes me. I want to exhibit wherever I can so that I am able to take part in TAF and one day the FNB Art Fair. I also need to finish this degree that is currently giving me heart palpitations.
2018 is going to be a year of the underdogs, a year of collaboration, a year to do better. There’s a seat for everyone on the table, and this is the time we stop crying about shit not moving and actively turn the wheel of fortune for ourselves.
Follow Lunga Ntila on her socials: @Lunga_Ntila
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