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Plastic Crowns stems from the idea of taking a perceived “prestigious” ornament such as a royal or beauty pageant crown and turning it into an object that anyone can purchase and thus enthrone themselves. It is the constant re-conception and reinvention of the self. Phumzile explores beyond the tragic boundaries of what her grandmother would consider a “good woman”, probing stereotypical ideas of gender, sexual preference and related stigmas and their relevance in contemporary society.

Going through my family album and seeing how curated it was, I wanted to unveil the dysfunction and speak about what really happens behind closed doors. I keep a journal regarding what I am going through internally, which is influenced by both memory and the present; how I remember the women in my family from my childhood and teenage years, and the realisation that what I took for strength at the time was actually survival. Placing headscarves and a chiffon dress over my camera mimicked the feeling of film, but also allowed me to view the space differently, disrupted, which echoed what I already felt.

Winner of the De Pietri Artphilein Foundation Photobook Contest 2019.