It Must Be Built From Ashes

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Justin's work reviews formal structures of image-making after a history of documentary realism in South Africa. His Cape Town based project, It Must Be Built From Ashes, challenges the mainstream media portrayal of Mitchells Plain and the Cape Flats, creating an intimate social dialogue with communities and their youth. Mitchells Plain, on the outskirts of Cape Town, is a purpose-built relocation area that developed following forced removals from Cape Town’s inner-city during the country’s apartheid regime. The project evaluates the notion of citizenship and place-related identity in breaking down historical constructs — creating a renewed visual economy for the area and its people. Justin captures the diversity of Mitchells Plain through nurturing relationships that explore interpretations of home and our sense of belonging — depicting children and young adults as they search for meaning in this world. Justin's work confronts the ethics of viewership in South Africa, questioning our global presence in the production of the postcolony and interpreting a sense of self in modern-day South Africa.

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Being for the Other

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Being for the Other centres on an unarmed, all-women anti-poaching unit combatting illegal wildlife trafficking in South Africa's Kruger area. The unit was initiated as an educational response to discourage young people in local communities from entering the dangerous poaching industry, and as a way of mobilising alternative forms of employment. Justin’s work looks at the socially-embedded aspects contributing to the perpetuation of poaching in South Africa, shining a light on an alternative approach that focuses on widespread community impact through the individual. Justin’s work gives a voice to the people affected by poaching, forming relationships and exploring communities’ history with land entitlement at a time when politicised claims and repatriation in a post-colonial context are commonplace in South Africa.

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Portlands High

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Justin Keene studio@justinkeene.com Instagram Close

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Justin's work explores concepts of identity and representation in South Africa, reviewing the ethics of photographic practice and its impact for contemporary art. His independent projects Being for the Other and It Must Be Built From Ashes construct narratives that reflect on South Africa as a postcolony. Justin's new work looks at the importance of the family archive for interpreting the image of history in a contemporary context — he continues his practice as part of a research-based Master's degree in the UK. Please email for enquiries.

Awards / Exhibitions

2020

Sony World Photography Awards — Group Show London
LensCulture Exposure Awards — Group Show New York City
Through The Lens Collective — Group Show Johannesburg

2019

Photo Vogue Festival 'A Glitch in the System' — Group Show Milan
The Independent Photographer — Group Show Barcelona & Berlin
Life Framer — Group Show London & Milan
Lucie Foundation Photo Taken Grant — Shortlisted
Life Framer Youthhood — Shortlisted
Lucie Foundation MOPLA — Group Show Los Angeles

2018

BJP Portrait of Britain — Shortlisted
AOP Student Awards — Group Show London
Saatchi Young Artist Prize — Group Show London

Features / Publications

2020

GUP Fresh Eyes
Life Framer Collection

2019

Oath Magazine — South Africa
ArtPremium — Art Basel Miami
YWYW Magazine
Talents of the Year — The Independent Photographer
It's Nice That
New European Photography — Fresh Eyes x GUP Magazine
Untitled — Curated by Henry Jay Kamara x Vibbar

2018

Portrait of Britain — BJP x Hoxton Mini Press
Float Magazine
Aint-Bad Magazine

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