Lindeka Qampi was born in 1969 in Bolotwa (Eastern Cape, South Africa). Qampi is self-taught and began taking photographs in 2006 when she met members of the Iliso Labantu (the eye of the people), a community-based photo collective. She began as a street photographer, photographing every day life and events in different townships around Cape Town including weddings, funerals and portraits of people in the community.
Qampi focuses her lens on daily township life, with particular attention on Khayelitsha, the township in which she has lived since her teens. She captures and shares what she sees, from the private sphere to the public and deals with a variety of issues such as the limited availability of land and cultural differences to creativity, cultural norms and the euphoria of child play. Her photographs express the poetry and politics of the ‘ordinary act’ and therein the potential of imagining new possibilities for the future.
In 2011 Qampi developed a series of photographs for New York University Master’s student, Shady Patterson, which featured township fashions. Patterson project, "Clothing and Dress in South African Townships in the Post Apartheid Era" attempted to ‘explore and interrogate the sartorial landscape of impoverished communities and to reveal traditional influences in economically oppressed and media saturated societies’. After Qampi completed the assignment for Patterson, she went on to produce "Material Culture", a series of photographs, continuing within the trajectory of "township fashion".
Since 2012, and alongside developing her own career as practicing photographer, Qampi has been the project facilitator for Inkanyiso, an activist platform founded by fellow photographer, Zanele Muholi. One of their projects, Empathetic Eyestook, led them to Benin where they presented photography workshops that focused on violence against woman. In 2015, this group of visual activists accepted an invitation to Norway and participated in a Visual Activism Cultural Exchange Project. In 2016, Muholi and Qampi were acknowledged for their outreach work with a Brave Award.
In 2015, Qampi turned her lens onto herself and her immediate family after she penned a poem, "Inside My Heart", to her late mother that said, "I have never written a poem before, but I knew I needed to say these words". The artist proceeded with the idea to illustrate each word of the poem with a photograph, either with an image of herself or her children. As the series developed through her exploration of self-portraiture, Qampi also decided to investigate other modes of expression. "Inside My Heart" now includes a video work, drawings and objects made by the artist. Qampi has also developed her own singing voice and wrote the lyrics and music for songs she performs when presenting this particular series.
Qampi’s work is part of collections in North-West University Gallery Collection (Potchefstroom, South Africa), Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, United States) and the University of Cape Town (Cape Town, South Africa). Her awards include the Mbokodo Award (2015) in the category "Creative Photographer" and the Brave Award (2016) with Muholi, acknowledging their outreach work.
© 2023 Sakhile&Me