Thapelo Maphakela (b.1990) is a documentary photographer, and photojournalist, based in Johannesburg and Pretoria. He tweets @ThapeloAfrika
Thapelo’s work is published on the London-based e-zine Minor Literature[s] (published 2 September 2014).
In South Africa, photography has always been intimately connected to the political. Photographers such as David Goldblatt and Santu Mofokeng are well-known for their life-long commitment to the documentation of the political in everyday life and experience. Both Goldblatt and Mofokeng appear in the recent exhibition/book Rise and Fall of Apartheid (curated/edited by Okwui Enwezor and Rory Bester). There are younger generations of photographers working today who while doing important work are not necessarily part of a system that enables education, visibility and professional development. Thapelo Maphakela is one of a new generation of documentary photographers and photojournalists drawing attention to the lived experiences of South Africans (and immigrants to South Africa) whose lives are not facilitated by the post-apartheid experience. The conditions of advanced capitalism, and its historical relationship to the apartheid state, are ubiquitous in South Africa today. Much has been written about the events of Marikana but there are also narratives about individuals living on the edges of existence, trying to survive, quite literally on the edges of urban environments [Extract: ‘Pretoria, South Africa’, a photo-essay published on Minor Literature[s], 2 September 2014].