THE BLACK LIGHT PORTRAIT PARTY

April 2018

Goethe-Institut

view the catalogue online

'The Black Light Portrait Party' is an exhibition comprising of photographs created using Matengu’s self-taught understandings of ultraviolet (UV) lighting.  Using neon body paints in collaboration with Sue Beukes, Matengu worked with local artists living and working in Namibia to create these portraits. As an artist, Matengu feels it is important to draw on the community aspect of visual and performing artists in Windhoek to reflect on what it means to be part of this community. In this way, Matengu reflects on his immediate community as well as the space of the Namibian arts world.

This process has created portraits that describe their subjects as figures of strength as well as vulnerability. For this exhibition, Matengu worked with Hansolo, Nashilongweshipwe Mushaandja, JC, Nga-I, Nunu Namises, RaMa, Ulla and the Universe Girls.

Photography is fundamentally the harnessing and manipulation of light. We are used to seeing the world through photography as we see it ourselves under normal daylight and nighttime conditions. Historically, photographers have developed their practice by altering conditions of capturing what is presented by natural light, or indeed by introducing artificial measures to enhance natural light. By altering the light itself, Matengu purposefully shifts our understanding of visibility and light, and of the absence of it. Creating different contours of the body with neon paints which reflect the UV light more strongly than skin or certain cloths, our perceived understanding of how a body exists in space is also shifted. We are invited into a new, constructed reality imagined by the artist and the sitters. We are invited to attend the Black Light Portrait Party.

Sam Matengu, owner of and photographer at SkySam Photography, was born in Windhoek and moved to the
United States and then Belgium as a child. After spending some time in Zambia later in life, Matengu returned to Namibia and worked in the hospitality industry  pursuing a love for food. Along with his passion for
food, Matengu had a keen interest in photography, and pursued the development of this skill in 2015. In 2016, he set up SkySam Photography and experimented with photography in various lighting conditions. Finding a particular interest in long-exposure photography, Matengu has explored this technique substantially. Delving further into experimentation of different effects of light, Matengu’s photographic process has morphed into using UV lighting. Matengu would like to thank Paolo Schneider for his assistance with the artistic process in this body of work.

 

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