18 Jun 2024 ///

Surrender – and Other Lessons Of Imperfection with Zizipho Poswa

Zizipho Poswa is committed to a process of surrender in her work. As an artist for whom clay is her primary medium – a substance that itself is as direct from the earth as one could have to work with – Zizipho knows, no matter the scale or intention of the work at hand, there is a point at which the guidance of her hand begins and ends; afterwhich the fire and clay become intertwined together. Their dance is an elemental convergence and Zizipho’s ability to allow this unfolding is central to her work. Ruptures and explosions, cracks and crevices may emerge; yet, this all necessary in a process as substantive as sculpture and ceramic. 

For Connect Everything Collective’s June 2024 Cover, Zizipho Poswa becomes an embodiment of her process and sculptures, in a self-referential array of images, collaboratively initiated between the CEC Media’s Editor-in-Chief, Zizipho and her long-time stylist Onesimo, along with the Imiso Studio team, led by Gisela Gold and brand architect Del Mar.

Zizipho Poswa photographed by Kitso Kgori
On an autumn Friday, the solar-lit studio became a canva – a set – and a scene, all in service to the expression of Zizipho as a sartorial incarnation of finding grace and surrender as an artist, captured by photographer Kitso Kgori. For Candice Erasmus, our publication’s founder and Editor in Chief, the creative direction of this cover was first sparked by the awe-inspiring body of work ‘uBuhle boKhokho (the beauty of our ancestors)’, a collection of Zizipho’s seismic sculptural works inspired by the artistic hairstyling traditions of Black women across the African continent and diaspora. As Candice explains, “the direction of the cover was inspired by the structure and form of Zizi’s sculptures – her use of texture and height. I wanted the images to be self-referential to her own bodies of work and the way that she creates these larger than life sculptures. Zizipho’s personal style is part of her collaboration with Onesimo, and we wanted her stature and presence to be central.”
Zizipho Poswa photographed by Kitso Kgori
The development of the cover became a fluid and dynamic space of reciprocity, with Zizipho’s stylist Onemiso curating the wardrobe, and Imiso’s (Zizipho Poswa and Andile Dylvane’s shared studio) Brand Architect, Del Mar, lending his art directive vision to initiate a conversation of the imperfect aspect involved in creation, a side that’s not often spoken about in the artistic process. As Del Mar explains, “the pieces that fall apart are something that Zizipho is quite familiar with in her process – she likes the work to create itself. Zizipho views the work very much like her child, and is open to taking risks that can either rupture or embed a new texture or layer. This process of not knowing is a very matriarchal, mother process that Zizipho has had to go through herself, to understand that you hold this item for a while but ultimately must be let go.” Del Mar crafted the ceremonial circle, in which Zizipho becomes the clay itself; surrounded by artefacts from Imiso, and reflective of the studio’s continued focus on ceremonial work, as the passages of time, successes and blessings move through their hands. 

On the wardrobe, Onesimo comments that “it was important to bring in the element of craft. There’s this idea of imperfection that is threaded through this editorial, so we wanted to make everything very sculptural. Most of the pieces were custom made for Zizipho. There is also a beautiful set by Lesiba Mabitsela, which was actually the only piece we sourced.” Lesiba’s design philosophy is rooted in a deconstruction and re-imagining of pattern-making and form, as a part of a decolonial sartorial practice. Xola Makoba, hair and make-up master, led the process of configuring Zizipho’s hair as sculptural homages to ‘uBuhle boKhokho (the beauty of our ancestors)’, and the make-up as its own reflection of the artistic process.

Zizipho Poswa photographed by Kitso Kgori
On the call of imperfection, Zizipho shares that, “there is so much beauty in imperfection, especially in the creative process. I just allow it to be what it is. You can’t erase, clay has memory, and there are so many surprises that can unfold – from handbuilding to the  application of glazes, and  the clay itself , these nuances will only be revealed once the clay has undergone the firing process. They’re like birthmarks and they’re so special. I choose to leave them as they are’’. This cover is a consequence of collaboration as a method for realising dreams, and Zizipho echoes that, “I am inspired first and foremost by my community. There is so much I have to honour in the process of making – from naming the piece itself, I acknowledge the people that have played an important role in my life, so wherever the piece ends up it carries the names of the people who have had an impact in my life. I work with a team that is so amazing and that understands what I am trying to say. It is never just me, and we are a team that is twenty years in the making, we need each other.

Lastly, Connect Everything Collective’s team notes that the synergistic collaboration behind the June 2024 cover is a road-map for the publication’s vision. In sharing gratitude for the collaborative effort, “working with Onesimo was an important part of this process as he and Zizipho already have a long standing collaboration and he really understands her through her own sartorial lens. Xola Makoba is an incredibly talented creative who has worked with Onesimo and Zizipho before, so we knew that would create a lot of confidence and comfort when it came to shooting. It was an honour to have Gisela and Del Mar, who are part of Imiso’s team, support this project and how Zizi was being represented, and Del for his art direction and development of the ceremonial circle; with artefacts that reflect the energetic process that exists at Imiso, translated onto set and then through these images. Then of course, working with photographer and friend of the publication, Kitso Kgori – we have wanted to create something beautiful together for a long time, seeing how she works and shoots so meticulously is a culmination of conversations and connection.”

Zizipho became CEC’s cover choice after our beautiful interview with her last year. As such a prolific artist who is doing such extraordinary work both locally and abroad, these images are exaltations between the boundaries of art and fashion, embodiment and identity. We are truly and irrevocably honoured. 

Zizipho Poswa photographed by Kitso Kgori


Talent: Zizipho Poswa
Photographer: Kitso Kgori
EIC & Creative Direction: Candice Erasmus 
Production Assistant & Art Direction: Grace Crooks
Stylist & Art Direction: Onesimo
Styling Assistant: Lindani Khawunjika
HMUA: Xola Makoba
Brand Architects: Gisela Gold and Del Mar of Imiso Ceramics
Studio: Hero Daylight Studio
Retouching: Jay Ry Co

Written by: Holly Beaton 
For more news, visit the Connect Everything Collective homepage www.ceconline.co.za

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