Lebo Thoka’s Art of Women, Religion, and Black liberation

Lebo Thoka is a contemporary fine art photographer who also identifies as a Black feminist. 

Through her works, she challenges perceptions reflecting the experiences of women in Africa, while imbibing Catholic faith and the appreciation of Blackness.

During the exhibition titled ‘I Exist’ in collaboration with Kenyan photographer and filmmaker Margaret Ngigi; David Krut Projects in Johannesburg; and the AKKA Project in Venice, Lebo Thoka’s art explored beyond blackness to appreciate the superpower of the female gender.


She says:

“I have been aware of the history and depictions of Black people. I have always been fascinated with the colour…black and the name black and the historical assignment of the word black, which was ascribed to Black people to disenfranchise them from the start.

It is very psychological and then it becomes social and then it becomes economic and expresses itself in various ways,

“Rather than relating to them through the violence, I want to relate to them through their glory,

“I believe that every woman is glorious and our glory is infinite,”

To create the artwork, she transmuted pictures of herself using digital enhancements and manipulation, transforming the images into deified icons which points to her Catholic upbringing.

Lebo Thoka continues to use herself as the focal point that extends the beauty of her work with a connection to religion.

“I think it is very important that I use myself and continue to use myself as the muse but make sure that I am not physically recognisable. 

“For me the first oppression I experienced was religious oppression. That was my first discovery of any kind of formal limitation on what I can say and what I can think, and in my work I have been grappling with that on a personal level.”

By Elijah Christopher

Elijah Christopher
Elijah Christopher is a journalist at A New Touch Of Africa, is also a creative writer, a poet, and an IT enthusiast. He contributed to the collaborative poem written in celebration of Edwin Morgan Centenary, the first Glasgow poet laureate and Scottish national poet from the University of Glasgow. He loves meeting people and learning about new places, cultures, events, and lifestyles.

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