Self-taught South African artist and photographer
Qampi began taking photographs in 2006, when she met members of the Iliso Labantu (the eye of the people), a community-based photo collective. She began as a street photographer and photographing weddings, events, and portraits. Soon she moved on to exploring her community in different ways, such as a project on street culture.
She focuses her lens on daily township life, with particular attention on Khayelitsha, the township in which she has lived since her teens. She captures and shares what she sees, from the private sphere to the euphoria of child play. Her photographs express the poetry and politics of the ‘ordinary act’ and therein the potential of imagining new possibilities for the future.
In 2011 Qampi developed a series of photographs for New York University Master’s student, Shady Patterson which featured township fashions. Patterson project, Clothing and Dress in South African Townships in the Post Apartheid Eraattempted to ‘explore and interrogate the sartorial landscape of impoverished communities to reveal traditional influences in economically oppressed and media saturated societies’. After Qampi completed the assignment for Patterson, but went on to produce her own series of photographs, continuing within the trajectory of “township fashion”, she titled the series, Material Culture.
Since 2012, and alongside developing her own career as practicing photographer, Qampi has been the project facilitator for Inkanyiso, an activist platform founded by fellow photographer, Zanele Muholi. One of their projects, Empathetic Eyestook, led them to Benin where they presented photography workshops which focused on violence against woman. In 2015, this group of visual activists accepted an invitation to Norway and participated in a Visual Activism Cultural Exchange Project. In 2016, Muholi and Qampi were acknowledged for their outreach work with a Brave Award.
In 2015, Qampi decided it was time to turn her lens onto herself and her immediate family after she had penned a poem, "Inside My Heart", to her late mother that said:
“I have never written a poem before, but I knew I needed to say these words”.
Qampi also proceeded with the idea to illustrate each word of the poem with a photograph, either with an image of herself or her children.
“I wanted my photographs to act as the grammar of my expression”.
As the series developed through her exploration of self-portraiture, Qampi also decided to investigate other modes of expression. "Inside My Heart" now includes a video work, drawings and objects made by the artist. Qampi has also developed her own singing voice and wrote the lyrics and music for songs she performs when presenting this particular series.
Qampi was born in Bolotwa in the Eastern Cape, Qampi is a mother of four children, living and working in Khayelitsha in Cape Town.