Vilakazi considers politics of bling

MABONENG PRECINCT - Muntu Vilakazi's new photographic exhibition looks at the rise of the South African black middle class as the country approaches 20 years of democracy.

The Politics of Bling: An Eastrand Culture Quest focuses on the lifestyles of young black people in areas that bear the burden of under-development and high unemployment rates.

“It’s a tale of high spending by extravagant youths who live it up amid rampant poverty,” said Vilakazi.

“The show observes their ideas of progress against a society that sees them as counter-progressive and exorbitantly wasteful. It is a story of fast cars, fashion, alcohol, ‘girls’, and music.”

The artist focused on three townships in the east of Johannesburg, namely Katlehong, Vosloorus and Kwa-Thema.

“The East Rand pales [in] comparison with the hectic pace, glitz, glamour and nightlife of Jozi [and] Soweto; however, there is a prevalent deep house, motorbike and drag racing culture that commands a significant following,” he said.

Vilakazi added that, despite the repeal of apartheid regulations, the geographic realities of the past continued to colour the character of contemporary South African spaces.

“The show goes beyond a generalised view, to discover how township culture in the east rand is distinct from that found in other parts of the land.”

The Politics of Bling will be at GoetheonMain, 245 Main Street, Maboneng Precinct, from 6 February until 16 March.

Details: 011 442 3232; www.goethe.de/johannesburg

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