South African photographer and filmmaker Jabu Nadia Newman's need to express herself through still and moving images has its roots in her childhood, with the acknowledgement of photography as a serious art form beginning with the pop magazine covers featuring Britney Spears and the Spice Girls. Her desire to bring to life delicate and controversial issues through film has equally innocent beginnings; her parents allowed her to watch Larry Clark’s Kids aged 12 as a means for them to approach the subject of sex in a frank way, and so films as a source of education began. Through both her images and films, 23-year-old Jabu hopes to create narratives around the marginalised that are often underrepresented in the media, to ultimately encourage a sense of familiarity for each viewer.
Feminism, sexuality and politics are the three topics most discussed and presented in Jabu’s work, from her photography to her films and web series, The Foxy Five, an intersectional feminist show from a black South African perspective through the voices of five women. Jabu started writing The Foxy Five in 2015 during Fees Must Fall, a protest in response to the proposed rise of education fees in South Africa, with the show later developing into an archive where the topics black women in South Africa are talking about today can be accessed: “I wanted to show how the political was personal and how the youth of South Africa were far from apathetic. I wanted to give black women an understanding of feminism from their perspective and try to create truthful and sincere representations of us.” Born out of sense of despair and hopelessness towards political and social injustices, the process of writing the show allowed Jabu to replace those disparate feelings with ones of love and strength in sharing the stories of herself and others as they discuss concepts and ideas surrounding sexuality, gender, race, class and politics.
Unsurprisingly, Jabu's aims for the future are no small feat: “I really do want to leave a mark on the world and I really do want to make an impact. Dare I say even spark change. I want to leave a mark by telling stories that have never been told by daringly "writing what I like" and not be afraid to delve deep and reveal the vulnerability in my life; to reach a point of storytelling that's so bare and so naked that it even makes me uncomfortable to write; to share my deepest darkest secrets in the hopes that others will find solace within them.” If Jabu's achievements to date are anything to go by, it sounds like she just might.