Abandoning perceptions which differentiate us, fine art photographer, Krisjan Rossouw creates a play on Pop Art in his recent series Culture Club. Using the endless colour spectrum of tribal paint and traditional ritual clay, he forsakes imagined or imposed notions of who we are based on how we are told we are seen. Continuing his signature approach to lighting, Krisjan illuminates his subjects in alternative hues, elevating them to an unnaturally saturated level. Seemingly playful in his creation of a club of fictionalised ‘cultures’, this body of work asks multiple valuable questions: What is the perceived versus the real relationship between skin colour and cultural identity? If no two of us where the same ‘colour’, what possible societies would result? Krisjan’s visual hyperbole presents a powerful critique, not only on the ideal of the ‘rainbow nation’ (the term used to describe post-apartheid South Africa), but also on the greater concern of the burgeoning global culture of systemic division and the senselessness of assumed superficiality weaponised in the drive which divides us.
'There has been much happening in the global political landscape around division and ‘otherness’. Similarly, and particularly across Africa, there’s a growing culture of ‘us and them’ driving multiple agendas which continues to concern me. I needed to address these somehow, to better understand them. Culture Club grew from that exploration: a response to the imagined or imposed notions of who we are based on how we’re told we’re seen. A fictionalised parallel place where the idea of colour became celebratory, where we literally became the ‘rainbow nation’ (the term commonly used to describe South Africa in the post-apartheid) is where Culture Club came to exist. The hyperbole presented interesting possibilities to me. If we were each a different colour, what possible society would that yield? It’s a naïve ideal, certainly, but once I started working and shooting, a deeper resonance began to reveal itself.' - Krisjan Rossouw.