26 October 2011 by Dianne Tipping-Woods

Swimming Upstream

When I’m browsing the web, I follow links, click through to websites, sometime stay a few seconds, sometimes a little longer.  I blame my short attention span on intrusive technology, like constant email, text, and instant messaging. And sometimes its just because I don’t find anything I want to read.

Which is why, when I find something by accident, that holds my attention, I want to share it. And Kathalijne van Zutphen caught my attention. I clicked a link on a friend’s facebook page and was capitvated. I have spent the afternoon reading her blog, checking out her work and generally developing what my partner calls a professional ‘crush’ on this hugely talented photographer. ‘Discovering’ Lauren Beukes and her work had a similar effect on me - so it was only fitting that Kathalijne had photographed her as part of her project, Swimming Upstream.

The project culminated in an exhibition late in 2010, and involved capturing both the portraits and the insights of young Cape Town creatives. Kathalijne spoke to “emerging and established DJs, musicians, filmmakers, actors, authors and illustrators about how they got started, perennial challenges within the creative industry, experiences in marketing themselves, and thorny issues like file sharing and copyright - all in an attempt to discover what drives them, and the difficulties they face in the current digital age.”

All the artists in the series were photographed in locations she chose to complement their unique identities, “cumulatively sketching Kathalijne’s own interpretation of the Cape Town landscape”, and setting up a dialogue around her experience of starting her own business when she moved from the Netherlands to Cape Town.

The Swimming Upstream exhibition featured ten framed archival prints, as well as video and stills on digital screens set up around the Grand Daddy Hotel. Opening night included a video by Cait Pansegrouw and Pierre de Villiers, an introduction by Verity Price and DJ Akio on the decks.

The list of artists who took part include: Toby Atwell, Donovan Cople, Lauren Beukes, Guy Buttery, Lauren Fowler, Twanji Kalula, Akio Kawahito, Miss Texas 1977, Tshepo Moche, Maloti Mothobi, S.A. Partridge, Verity Price, Monishia Schoeman, Neil John Smith, Hendrik Vermeulen, Tristan Waterkeyn and Sam Wilson.

I don’t think it gets any cooler than this.

Although I gather from her blog that Kathalijne is back in the Netherlands I can’t wait to see what she does next. One of her recent blog entries reads “I do know that there is only one way back from to, and that is to get back on the proverbial horse. I hope it rears up and gallops straight into the fields of possibility.” I hope so too, having been humbled and inspired. She is too good not to keep doing what she does.

Category: Arts & Entertainment

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