The Artistic Meltdown

article & styling by khanya mzongwana

photography by naledi chai

This shoot is something strange and disjointed and beautiful that Zeph and I decided we should collaborate on. It’s important on a personal level even, because I feel like it’s testament to what I’d call an artistic meltdown (not a meltdown that is artistic,  the meltdown of an artist). There’s generally been a lot of hard questions I’ve been asking myself about food and the notion of beauty and the very plasticky world of [food] styling and how I can find my creative voice outside of photographing roast chicken and being part of Instagram’s weird food porn affliction.

What I learnt about the so-called artistic meltdown is that even though it doesn’t feel like it at the time, it’s a really exciting and rebellious place to be – it’s like looking, REALLY looking hard at your environment for the first time and realising just how fucked up it’s all really been all this time, and it’s often coupled with feelings of “OMG I’ve been following all these stupid rules”/ “I hate being an artist” / “I’m starting my new life as a nail technician ffs”. Maybe that’s just me. I’m taking a hard look at my industry and the possibilities therein of finding limitless doses of artistic freedom.

Some of these images are weird in the way they don’t really appeal to the appetite, and they’re really about looking at ingredients and nature as a whole in a different way; recognizing how miraculous and beautiful food is. It was an experimental first for me to style in this way and the beginning of figuring out other forms of expression through food. We do have some old-school food editorial moments here and there but I guess that’s just a hard thing to shake. There was a lot of playing involved and the idea was to keep it fun, fantastical and silly but super simple.