Boipelo Khunou aka BOTAKI is an artist and freelance portrait photographer based in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is currently completing a BAFA Hons degree at the University of Witwatersrand and is interested in the embodiment of personal power. She works in various media to engage ideas that speak to lived experience; an artist who creates from an understanding of her position in the world and the contexts that she is active in. Our creative on the move is dedicated to her philosophy, BOTAKI KE BOTSHELO, here’s more on what inspires her and her latest projects.
“I’m inspired by life itself, and travel. There are so many aspects to our existence that we take advantage of or don’t notice at all. I came to the idea of studioBOTAKI, which is my own artistic platform, after feeling like I needed a space where I could control my artistic representation and start building a foundation where I would begin to give active meaning to my creations. Last year I struggled with the pressure of what it truly meant to express authentic art and found myself a bit lost as to what I should focus on because I have so many different skills and interests. Now I want to see these ideas and concepts through in the mediums that I know and loosen the pressure of perfection by seeing the act of creating as an opportunity to learn and grow. This is what inspires me now, that truly BOTAKI KE BOTSHELO.
My work is unique simply because everything I create comes through my mind, heart and hands and people notice this when they share, buy and collaborate with me. I think my work is authentic to my own life experiences and does not come across as pretentious because I try my best to be open to knowledge and different ways of expressing ideas. Although I do think external influences are a big part of why we create and we must always acknowledge the sources of our inspiration.
I am working on several projects independently and collectively with Pussy on a Plinth and BATHO. Independently I want to rebuild my artistic portfolio and aesthetic and stretch my abilities as a photographer and merge my fine art background into photographic and film work, hopefully this will allow me to strengthen an art director skill I am dying to develop. A definite project I am pursuing is a nude series titled Bontle Ba Tlhago which can be described as an ode to nature, colour and the nude human form, and through this series I hope to collaborate with anyone who is willing to be a muse. I also intend to expand some concepts into screen printing and digital drawing/animation projects. Photography has been my main practice for a while but I haven’t felt as artistically connected to it before as I do now so I’d like to give it more presence in my life as an artist.
Pussy On a Plinth is a collective I formed with ten fellow artists and friends late last year. We’ve created an image based publication for the Lephephe Print Gatherings hosted by Keleketla! Library and Title in Transgression last year and this year we hope to really solidify the collective through hosting zine jams and curating exhibitions that will allow us to share more of our individual fine art practices and assert our space as artists creating around our lived experiences.
BATHO is a platform I started with my sister, Didintle Khunou, about two years ago and it has been silent for a while. This was truly my first passion project even before I moved to Johannesburg and we intend for it to serve as a mouth piece for people around us to engage in certain conversations that affect our immediate and external societies. Our main form of documentation is through film and we hope to give BATHO a new feel and begin creating and collaborating again.
To be honest I am in constant need of motivation as well and this is mostly because it is very easy to slip away from our first intentions and dreams that made us choose art in the first place. So my advice is to set reminders to assist you in remembering what made you feel it necessary to be creative whenever you feel like you are slipping away or when you face rejection, because it will happen many times. Purpose is everything and being reminded of our purposes, even if it changes along the creative process, is always a good way to remain grounded and focused. I’d also advise anyone seeking more creative outlets in life to maintain their curiosity and never stop questioning institution and social traditions. There is a lot of freedom that comes from the uncanny ways of life and there is more to life and art once you allow yourself to unlearn certain things. Be resilient and use whatever you have accessible to you. Technologies don’t only exist digitally, and often times the technologies and resources we use digitally can be simplified by researching other forms of technologies and ways of creating from different cultures and contexts. In the same respect learn your rights. Artists have responsibilities to give credit to our influences but we also have rights to our work, intellectual property and to how our work is distributed. This will raise our awareness and value of our work and will also raise our confidence and criticality towards the different.”
– Boipelo Khunou
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