“My answer to most things is love. Life, work, photography and all else. Love is always either the answer or healer”
The two of us are no exception to the rule. You know…. the one that promises that kids who are curious about where the wild things are, step off their previous life grids at the end of matric and find themselves in Grahamstown. So I’ve known Neo for a long while, more specifically; she’s photographed me tipsy at 20, clown at 21, through several heartaches, first professional shows and even as a 3rd year journalism assignment.
Between us, we have files upon files of work created and gathered over many years. That said, this is the first time we have ever directly swapped roles as subject and photographer. I look to the first shoot we did together and find a clown. I immediately choose to approach the shoot the same way I would a script. With clear intentions, willingness to turn a copper staircase into a theatre and a ridiculous prop to solve any logical problems as Wes Anderson would (illogically. duh). She opens up the shoot with “Ya neh Buhle. You didn’t want to be photographed so bad, that you are now taking photos of me!” then runs off cackling. What ensues is basically me provoking responses and expressions out of her then praying that I am clicking fast enough. Red Cassanova with the sauce and honest eyes is what I will call her for the whole month of love. Brave in being and deliberate AF.
Buhle: How do you take your coffee?
Neo: Coffee, milky and two sugars.
Buhle: What’s your favourite colour?
Neo: Black because it’s soft but it also says don’t fuck with me
Buhle: Complete the sentence, “Black in relation to photography is….”
Neo: Easy to edit, rich, soft, gentle. Anything that’s black that’s documented is always important.
Buhle: What do you mean by Queer Joy?
Neo: Queer joy means having the audacity to be happy in spite of being in constant danger.
Buhle: How would you describe your aesthetic?
Neo: My dad told me I’m starting to dress like he did when he was my age so there’s that.
Buhle: How were you being romanced this Valentines day?
Neo: I had many. Plan one was to curve all my heux to go have brunch with myself in Kalk Bay. Then I send my payslip attached to a rose to my exes, then I would like to take my latest crush on a date but I’m not sure Valentine’s Day is her thing.
Concept and words: Buhle Ngaba and Neo Baepi