Kyle Weeks is one of South Africa’s leading contemporary photographers who has in recent years gained critical acclaim for his powerful photographs that are principally concerned with challenging the portrayal of African communities in Western society.
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Born in Namibia in 1992, Kyle Weeks received his Bachelor of Arts in Photography from the Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography in South Africa in 2013.
Ovahimba Youth Self Portraits
Weeks’ work actively engages with contemporary ideas of a new Africa. His first solo exhibition, ‘Ovahimba Youth Self Portraits’, exhibited in 2014 at the Joburg Art Fair, was widely acclaimed for its empowering depictions of the Ovahimba people. Allowing the young men to control the way their portraits were taken, by giving them control of the camera’s shutter release, Weeks’ photographs represent the hybridisation of Ovahimba culture. The portraits allow for a greater nuance in the depiction of cultural traditions and contemporary cultural identity.
In 2015, he began a series depicting Palm Wine harvesters in his native Namibia. In this series, he captures farmers from the Himba population in the process of preparing and maintaining the Makalani palms to make palm wine, which has been a tradition in the Kunene region of Namibia for generations. The palm wine that is produced is known locally as ‘Otusu’. Although officially banned under Namibian law, the practice continues to thrive in the areas surrounding the Kunene River. The Himba people firmly believe that it is their right to continue their ancient cultural tradition. Weeks’ portraits convey the bravery and deep sense of pride that this group of men feel while carrying out their precarious treetop work. He used a wide-angle lens in order to capture the vast scale of the trees, which can grow up to 15 meters high.
Publications and Awards
In 2016, he was the winner for the Single Image category at the Magnum photography awards. His work has been featured in numerous publications including Time Magazine, Dazed, i-D, and Magnum Photography amongst others.