Moolman’s work has appeared in Dazed, Vogue, GQ and indie fashion mag King Kong. She has also shot campaigns and look books for Johannesburg fashion label Oath Studio and New York-based fair trade brand Edun (which was co-founded by Bono and sources production in Africa). Last year, she travelled to Kinshasa with Congo-born Belgian rapper Baloji to document the making of a series of short films accompanying his album, 64 Bits & Malachite.
Moolman is based in Johannesburg and says she is inspired by “the contrasting nature of the city” as well as its diverse creative community. She grew up in a small town in Karoo, a semi-desert region of South Africa, and studied art before taking up photography.
One of a group of creatives challenging perceptions of Africa, Moolman presents a look at everyday life in South Africa – her Instagram and Tumblr feature images of shop signs, tower blocks, living rooms, and restaurants alongside shots of lakes, deserts and foliage – but she also explores themes of sexuality, violence and black magic in her work. Her aim, she says, is to present an alternative to stereotypical images of the continent often presented in local and international media.
“[It’s] the idea of creating a fictional mythology or place based on the synthesis of political, personal and visual stimuli experienced while living in this particular place at this particular time,” she explains. “Essentially the idea of a ‘new’ Africa existing in a separate reality where themes like sexuality, violence and black magic are prevalent – explored alongside concepts of security, segregation and the conflict between the constructed and the natural.”
For Oath’s SS16 lookbook, Moolman looked to androgynous culture in South African townships in the 1980s and 90s for inspiration, shooting a series of images in Oath founder Rich Mnisi’s grandmother’s house in Soweto. (Subjects included an artist and a student who was cast on the street). A shoot for King Kong featured images of models dressed in clothing sourced from skips, while her lookbook for Edun offered a look at contemporary life in Soweto, with models posing in pastel living rooms and sunny streets.
Her social media accounts act as a visual diary – arresting portraits sit alongside less polished images, which offer a behind-the-scenes look at shoots as well as snaps of everyday scenes which have inspired her. Moolman is now hoping to move into film-making and says she firmly believes that photography has the power to subvert and challenge the norm.
“I think it’s because it can either be used to instantaneously capture a perceived reality or to completely fabricate one,” she adds.
See the full collection of featured South African creatives at designindaba.com/southafricandesign.