Under the auspices of ROOM Gallery & Projects, conceived by Mpho Mokgadi & Maria Fidel Regueros as well as further developed with the support of Jemma Dwyer and feedback from professionals in the field  - the PHOTOLENS ENCOUNTERS project is focused on providing an informal platform for photographers at large to present existing, current and planned projects, a place of sharing and voicing concern – professional, technical, aesthetic, access to networks, packaging and presentation of professional portfolios.


























As part of the PhotoLens Encounters rubric, which opens for discussion photographic content by early- , mid-career and aspiring photographers. In the latest edition the work of Alastair Mclahlan who for 12 years has documented Johannesburg's CBD streets and rooftops from the vantage point of his home, a derelict laboratory space, on the 19th floor, of the Lister Medical Building, which  subsequently functioned as a gallery, event space and artisan studios. The conversation will extend with presentation of ongoing series of works by Sibusiso Gcaba, titled "Fear as an illusion".


The discussion aims to interrogate notions around street photography; documentation of public spaces depicting private moments, the comfort zones of the photographer, should the gaze have boundaries and what happens to these images once they become public.


Of his work Alastair McLahlan, states:
































About "Fear as an illusion", Sibusiso Gcaba states:















For more information on the PhotoLens Encounters please contact:

Mpho Mokgadi, Maria Fidel Regueros and Jemma Dwyer on photolensencounters@gmail.com



I knew very early on that I never wanted to live in Johannesburg.


I still hold the organic quietude and even spiritually of the rural farms I grew up on, dear.


Curiosity got the better of me after I exhibited at the Generator Art Space, in Newtown, and subsequently participated in the “Tour guides of the inner city” art intervention program, in 2000.


I found and moved into a derelict laboratory space, on the 19th floor, of the Lister Medical Building, in 2003 and lived there till 2014.


STAD / CITY is an innocuous phrase that belies the complexity of Johannesburg and reduces it to a simple bilingual matter of fact… but it lingers like history, hard to forget. Johannesburg is cosmopolitan, complicated and hard to understand but the reason she exists is simple, Johannesburg is pregnant with prospect.


Johannesburg, and more specifically the CBD, is the context for this series.


I wanted to share her, to show her off, and in the process accidentally started a venue, gallery and artisan studios. I made Johannesburg look PR good but there was so much more to her.


At odds with the perception of Johannesburg as "capital" city, where fortunes are made, is the notion of Johannesburg as home. Sundays, holidays, off-days and in-between days in central Johannesburg are colourful. For the most part, they are free of the usual traffic and hustle, a quiet respite that offers a glimpse of her soft underbelly. Days for rest, laundry, worship, being human and taking Photos. There is a rhythm and a ritual that becomes community.


I hope these images of Johannesburg convey and engage both the reality of her social context whilst providing a place for the world of your imagination. I hope that the stories come through… of how she is without make-up, undressed on a rooftop.

The project "Fear as an Illusion", was inspired by my story of how I've managed to overcome fears in general and  phobias over the years and how I manage to navigate through the city with ease when my city is considered to be one of the most dangerous.

I attempt to visually create Images that would spark fear to my young self.


This has made me realize that most of these fears were just Illusions that I feared more than the actual danger they potentially had.



Alastair Mclahlan, Ninja Turtle, 2008, Giclée on cotton rag paper

Sibusiso Gcaba, Mental Confinement, 2017, Giclée on cotton rag paper









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© 2018 ROOM Space & Projects NPC / Selected Images Courtesy & Copyright of the Artists presented