Student captures Southern African myth and folklore in pictures

30 April 2019

In what is considered one of the most imaginative B Tech dissertations originating from the Tshwane University of Technology’s Department of Visual Communication this year, a Photography student has captured a series of photomontage images that depict Southern African myth and folklore. Conrad Bitzer (29) obtained his degree cum laude at one of the University’s Autumn graduation ceremonies hosted at its Pretoria Campus on Monday, 29 April.

Conrad Bitzer, a B Tech Visual Communication (Photography) student, has captured a series of photomontage images that depict Southern African.

The title of his dissertation is An Evolution Of Surreal Photomontage Within South African Myth And Folklore. 

Conrad cleverly constructed eighteen images through a photomontage that incorporates dozens of photographic layers merged together to create an evolution different from the original pieces.

“The subject chosen is myth and folklore with origins in Southern Africa and in different African languages. This could be in the form of an oral story, idiom or metaphor portrayed through implanted symbolic messages that can assist the viewer to interpret the overall narrative,” says Conrad, who was exposed to multiculturalism from a young age. 

Conrad experienced a lot of his childhood abroad because of his father being a diplomat. “After starting my life in Pretoria, my family moved to Denmark till I was about four years old. We moved back to South Africa and stayed for a couple of years. In Grade 2, we moved to Canada for about four years. When we returned to South Africa, I finished school at Pretoria Boys High. After school, I still had the opportunity to travel to Russia, France and Namibia. Through all this travelling, I met many different kinds of people and experienced their culture and way of living. I believe this influenced my outlook on life greatly,” he adds.

After school, he chose to become a designer which led him to landscaping. “This would open the door to the possibility of using visual communication to express myself and still be able to make a living. I eventually put my landscaping design on hold and decided to study further to become a commercial photographer and was trained for three years. In my fourth year, I decided to embrace being an artist and thus proved to myself that it could be a viable career choice that incorporated all the skills that I had learned through the last decade after leaving high school.”

Asked for her impressions of Conrad’s work, Francki Burger, his supervisor, says: “Conrad is a collector of stories; which he then visually gathers, through photographing and assembling images to captivate the viewer. His constructed photographs tell the story of what it is to be human and how these Southern African narratives evoke a certain familiar emotion within all of us. His work also reminds us that we are all connected to the stories that we grew up with. It was a pleasure to teach him during his B Tech studies, as he was an extremely innovative, dedicated and enthusiastic student.”

Conrad is now heading for Korea where he will teach English and also portray that culture in his unique imagery.

To view the images that formed part of his dissertation, with detailed descriptions, go to: 

Two of the images that form part of his dissertation.

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