For our second collection, we reached out to Johannesburg-based artist Lebohang Kganye to collaborate with us. As one of two South African creatives we have chosen to work with on our Building Connections collection, Lebo sits amongst a new and exciting generation of contemporary photographers. We chat to her about her starting point for the piece, the role of photography in her work and her favourite part of her creative process. 

Artwork - Lebohang Kganye - Designer Collaboration

What were the things to consider when creating for a garment to be worn, as opposed to any of the more “traditional” surfaces?

The main consideration for me was how the image would take on a different form or shape each time the knitted sweater is worn by someone different and in a different context. 

How does this collaboration differ from some of the others you’ve done?

It allows my art to be accessible outside of the traditional art spaces, which creates a different conversation around my work and its central themes.

Artwork - Lebohang Kganye - Designer Collaboration

Take us through the process of creating this particular piece? What was the starting point?

My photographic work Dirithi was the starting point, which relies on the family photo album.

How did you interpret the fundamental message of the collection, Building Connections?

The patterns or consistent inquiries in my work are the relationship between memory and fantasy; the question of whether art can heal; photography’s link to memory and family, are themes that are important to me, which link well with the message of the collection Building Connections. 

Artwork - Lebohang Kganye - Designer Collaboration

Your work revolves around the interplay between both real and fictional characters, which in itself speaks to connection and communication… What did you hope to communicate with this piece of work?

I’ve been thinking about ancestors as multitudinous manifestations and co-existences in a time-space between past and present. Roland Barthes’s use of death as a metaphor for photography: the ‘presence of absent figures’ and an ‘always-already absent present’, which is ‘neither present, nor absent’. For me, photography is a ghost, an existence in transition, hovering in a duality of time. Silhouettes resonate with me because of this play.

Is there a part that you particularly enjoy when working on a new commission?

Commissions allow me to imagine my practice in a different way and allows an enquiry about my practice and medium. 

Artwork - Lebohang Kganye - Designer Collaboration

What do you hope the wearer feels when putting your work on their body? 

The concept of FIELDS as a contemporary menswear clothing line is that men are multi-faceted, which the SS20 collection translated by how the artwork is viewed from the back and front, creating a sense of connection to the silhouette figures in piece.

The idea of fashion being “wearable art” has long been debated, what are your thoughts about it? 

My work contains a sculptural element. It follows a similar language to fashion, especially when it comes to garments that are handmade. And, because of the tactility of my process and the responsiveness to stimulation of the sense of touch, like with fashion, I am intrinsically connected to every individual piece I make. 

When investing in a piece of clothing, what is important to you?

The quality of the material, and a cut or shape that is unique and complimentary to my style and body type.

Artwork - Lebohang Kganye - Designer Collaboration

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