The year is 2006, and veteran photographer Andrew Tshabangu is in Maputo, Mozambique attending the Indian Ocean Photographer’s Workshop, along with fellow lensfolk from the SADC region and the African Indian Ocean islands. “I stumbled upon that image,” he says of his photograph Salt of the Earth, taken at a salt refinement site run by a small business. “It then informed the series I took at that workshop, focussing on salt.
”This series speaks to others, such as Water Is Ours, in his long-running food production theme. They will intersect in Communion, an exhibition at Gallery MOMO next month. “I will be looking at the spirituality of salt, water, alcohol, and bread, and exploring the rituals of food [salt and water]. Salt has a biblical meaning but is also problematic, with clear contradictions because of its association with lifestyle diseases. I will be exploring all of that.
”We give space to Tshabangu’s work in anticipation of this exhibition, and in celebration of a body of work of over 30 years that humanises the African experience in all its facets — mobility, spirituality, ritual, city life, and the slow, profoundly rhythmic ways of rural life, represented on our cover (Man Washing Clothes) and on the contents page (Carrying Wood), from the 2003 Emakhaya series.
• From the September edition of Wanted, 2021.