Chris Saunders: A portrait of contemporary South Africa

July 15, 2012

There is an amazing energy and flow streaming from the fashion, music and street culture of South Africa especially in Johannesburg. I think the work of South African photographer and film maker Chris Saunders beautifully captures the amazing energies and colours buzzing around South Africa.

A recent exhibition at The Institute in Edinburgh labels the work of Chris Saunders as ‘A portrait of contemporary South African culture’. This is clear in his street photography collection featured on his website, photographic series and film titled The Smarteez, music video Sebenza by LV featuring Okmalumkoolkat and fashion film Supremebeing Johannesburg.

It’s been a while since I first saw Saunders‘ work, but every time I see it, it’s like I am seeing it for the first time. Mainly because I have been so used to hearing and seeing the same things about South Africa − crime, the Springboks, Nelson Mandela and the ANC. In the post ‘Brand Africa’ (05.06.12) Samira has a similar view on her thoughts of South Africa. So seeing the work of Saunders and mini documentaries by the likes of The Fader and Stocktown gives a new and fresh element to how we view South Africa.

Saunders‘ work is a celebration of individuality and bravery in the face of the urban grind and zooms in on those risk takers who creatively constructs their own identities through dress, art and attitude.

Helen Jennings and the Editor of Arise and author of New African Fashion



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