Winners of the Transformation Office photography competition, “Identity through hair”, were announced last night at the John Moffat foyer at Wits University.
This is the competition’s sixth year and it allows students to share their interpretations of transformation at Wits, using art to celebrate it.
“This is an important occasion that happens every year,” said Prof. Tawana Kupe, DVC Finance, Human Resources and Transformation.
Kupe said that entries “speak to diversity”. “A picture shows a thousand words about identity…Art expresses transformation, it also feeds into identities,” he said.
What people do to their hair is a form of art, an aesthetic form of transformation. “People perform aesthetic experimentation and transformations with their particular hair. And that change fits into their identities,” he added.
The theme, Identity Through Hair was selected as people are discriminated against because of their diverse hair. Instead, “We should use hair to celebrate diversity,” said Pura Mgolombane, Manager of Diversity, Ethics & Social Justice at the Transformation Office.
Many [of us]use hair and styling as central to the expression of our identity.
This year the 31 entries were difficult to judge because they were so diverse and creative, according to Jessica Foli, marketing coordinator at the Wits Art Museum. Photography had to be “more than a selfie”. Pictures were not judged in isolation, they were to be accompanied by stories for each image.
Two entries by Marguerite de Villiers and Jessie-lou Workman received special mention because of their composition and stories. The participants were awarded certificates.
First place went to Ntokozo Xaba, 3rd year BSc Urban Regional Planning. Her photograph showed a young women standing on a rooftop in Hillbrow, overlooking the city. Xaba said because she lives in Hillbrow, she can’t afford the luxury of taking a walk outside for fresh air. “So, I go to the rooftop to unwind and get inspired.”
Lanice Jegels, 3rd year BA Psychology took second place. The subjects in her photograph, all women, were of different race, body shapes and had different hairstyles. “The world informs us on how to express identity… In South Africa we see identity as colour,” she said.
Students, Marcel Kutumela took 3rd place, Lindiwe Gugushe took 4th place and Realeboga Oagile was placed 5th. Junaid Sheik Hussein, 2nd year BSc Civil Eng, won on the public vote via Facebook, for a second year in a row.
Additional to cash prizes and hampers, winning entries will be part of the new exhibition about hair and African art at the Wits Art Museum. The exhibition is based on hair because “Many [of us]use hair and styling as central to the expression of our identity,” said Lesley Cohen, Strategy, Planning and Development.
this article was featured in the Wits Vuvuzela