Imaging the Gap: Dissensus and Belonging in Thandile Zwelibanzi's Still Existence
Williams, Jessica Rachelle
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In his 2010 series, Still Existence, South African photographer Thandile Zwelibanzi images illegal African immigrants as they informally sell sweets and cigarettes on the streets of Johannesburg. In his documentation of the political arguments of these foreigners for their inclusion in the consensus of the nation, Zwelibanzi lends a medium to these individuals through which they can obtain aesthetic (and therefore political) agency. If, in Still Existence, the public sphere of Johannesburg's streets serve as the "dissensual stage" upon which foreign traders exert their claims of belonging and contest their right to work, then it is the process of their subjectivization and their argument for their belonging that are ultimately imaged in these portraits.