Sabelo Mlangeni

Sabelo Mlangeni, Men Only, 2008-2009. Image courtesy Stevenson Gallery

Sabelo Mlangeni, Men Only, 2008-2009. Image courtesy Stevenson Gallery

When speaking of his arrival in Johannesburg from the South African province where he grew up, Mlangeni talks about how he experienced the same mix of frustration and excitement of many other newcomers on the lookout for new opportunities and a better quality of life. 

The first opportunity for professional development arrived in the form of a scholarship, offered to the artist by the Market Photo Workshop. Ever since, Sabelo Mlangeni has worked on photographic series such the two exhibited in Liverpool: Men Only (2008-2009) and My Storie (2012), the latter a world premiere presented on the occasion of the 2012 Liverpool Biennial. 

Both bodies of work highlight the artist’s interest in the political construction and social definition of the category of the ‘outsider’. Drawing on his own experiences and the empathy he feels for others in the position he was once in himself, Mlangeni explores marginality and continuously challenges the distance that conventionally separates the photographer and his subjects. Ultimately, his images focus on the grey area existing between opposite forces such as acceptance and discrimination.

Sabelo Mlangeni (b. 1980, Driefontein) lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa. Previous exhibitions include Black Men in Dress and Iimbali (Stevenson Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2012), Figures and Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography (V&A, London, U.K., 2011) and I am not afraid: The Market Photo Workshop (Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2010).

Sabelo Mlangeni at Liverpool Biennial 2012

My Storie, 2012

Selection of photographic works
Exhibited at The Tea Factory