Interview about multimedia design, South African photography and arts
(Editor/ Autor: Ghassan Abid)
Vodacom, Nike oder The South African Airways – die südafrikanischen und ausländischen Konzerne haben bei der Beauftragung von Werbekampagnen einen Ansprechpartner: Louis Vorster. Vorster zählt zu den bekanntesten und erfolgreichsten Fotografen Südafrikas. Einst unterrichtete er Studenten im Studiengang Multimedia Design, nun liebt er es, den Menschen in Bilder einzufangen. Seine Inspiration erhält er aus Deutschland, von den Fotografen Wolfgang Tillmans und Jürgen Telle. Vorster hält fest, dass sich in Südafrika keine homogene Fotografieszene entwickelt hat, sondern vielmehr verschiedene Stile entstanden sind. Umso trauriger ist es, dass die gegenwärtige Regierung des Landes keine Förderung der Fotografen für wichtig erachtet, obwohl diese – nachgewiesen in den USA – als eigene Wirtschaftsbranche zum BIP beisteuern kann. Die kontrovers diskutierte künstlerische Arbeit seiner schwarz-lesbischen Kollegin Zanele Muholi, die die Intimität von Frauen abbildet, verteidigt er.
2010sdafrika-editorial staff: We welcome on „SÜDAFRIKA – Land der Kontraste“ – the German gateway to South Africa – the South African commercial portrait photographer Louis Vorster. You studied Industrial Design in Johannesburg and Cape Town. One day you switched to photography, for which reason and why photography?
Answer: In the late 90’s after I graduated in Industrial design I drifted into multimedia design and for 2 years taught multimedia design. At the university where I taught, our department shared a building with the photography department, I found myself spending more time at the photography department creating content for multimedia projects than designing the actual projects. After my two years teaching, I decided I wanted to be a professional photographer and assisted other photographers for a couple of years.
2010sdafrika-editorial staff: You are known for your expressive portraits. What does it mean for you from artistic viewpoint to photograph people?
Answer: I find it easier to express myself as a photographer when I photograph people as opposed to when I shoot landscapes or still lives, not only because people can be directed but because people move me more than other subjects, I like people.
2010sdafrika-editorial staff: South Africa is becoming more and more an global player in arts. However, the United States are the leading nation in photography. Is the South African government supporting their photographers by funding or connecting?
Answer: No, I think generally our goverment and individuals representing the goverment don’t understand the role or importance of photographers. Fine art, commercial or press photographers.
2010sdafrika-editorial staff: You still haven´t in Germany yet. What do you think about Germany as a country and about German arts. Which impressions do you have from this nation and Germans?
Answer: This is an interesting question because my documentary work is influenced by two German photographers more than anything else, Wolfgang Tillmans and Juergen Teller. Both of them are very well known, I have looked at their work since 2001.
Please note: All arts are property and under copyright licence of Louis Vorster.
2010sdafrika-editorial staff: You worked already for several big enterprises, like Vodacom, Nike or The South African Airways. On the one hand, you are producing portraits. On the other hand, you are capturing pictures from landscapes, music events and polaroids. Your collection „Portraits #1“ is really interesting – what is your message to the public?
2010sdafrika-editorial staff: In the past, we have interviewed Zanele Muholi, a lesbian black photographer from Durban. She told us, that photographer will be in social trouble, if they are focussing on intimacy. Does the South African society being ready for ´spunky´ arts?
Answer: South Africa is such a diverse society. Communities not only range from liberal to conservative but we also have different cultural backgrounds. Topics that may be everyday conversation in one community could be a big taboo in others. Unfortunately some people will always be blinded by the subject matter of a photograph to such an extent that they will never be able to appreciate any other value that the work may have. Artists like Zanele Muholi face challenges not always understood by us who express and present our work to more liberal (and tolerant) audiences.
2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Which upcoming projects are you preparing?
Answer: I started shooting a documentary on violence under farm workers in the Cape winelands about a year ago, I would like to push this project a bit harder and maybe realize it in the next few months.
2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Which dreams would you like to realize?
Answer: I would like to shoot a big documentary, something I can sink my teeth into. Something important that will keep me occupied for 6 months to a year. Also. I would like to get paid for it.
2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Louis Vorster, portrait photographer from Cape Town in South Africa, thank you very much for this interview!
2010sdafrika-article to photographer Roger Ballen: