The Shape of Blackness : Artists


Lebo Thoka

“[Women] will not be defined by a society that fuels its engines with our blood and props itself up with our bones. We are the sum of the power and potential that society tries so hard to beat out of us. We might bend but we will never break.”

Lebo Thoka is a Johannesburg-based photographer, image retoucher, and visual artist. She identifies as a feminist and that directly informs the themes she incorporates within her photographic work. Thoka uses various motifs to raise awareness of the rampant issue of gender based violence in South Africa and the ever-increasing murders of women. She employs constant juxtaposition of religious figures (drawing from her own religious upbringing) with the constant silencing of the violence women experience in South African society.

Thoka notes that as a Black, heterosexual, cis-gendered, middle class, able-bodied woman in patriarchal post-apartheid South Africa, she is constantly on a journey to understand how privilege and struggle can exist in one body at the same time. She uses her photographic work to explore those complexities both from a personal perspective and in solidarity with South African women who are murdered or violated in the shadows of the nation’s young democracy.


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