As the society is adjusting to the changes brought about by the novel coronavirus, photographer Letso Leipego of Letz Photography this past Monday released his photography series that focuses on the impacts the pandemic continues to have on Botswana’s heartland communities. The photographer captures some of the changes in society, giving a glimpse of the new normal through his lens.
“There is real adaptability shown by Batswana, proof of how seriously the Covid-19 era is affecting lives in every community, but also a war cry that the proud nation will remain resilient in the face of emerging challenges,” the photographer said in a statement.
Traditionally, Leipego says there has been a lack of awareness and attention given to mental illness across cultures in Africa, and Botswana is hardly an exception. The photography series offers a stark look at the often-overlooked elements of mental health that become all too apparent when the country – and the world – is faced with a major pandemic.
Leipego said: “Drawing from personal questions about how people’s daily existence is being affected by the unseen monster among us, and tapping into the different moods and emotions evoked by these, this photo series strives to tap into the minds of those affected, to offer a glimpse of the personal struggles, hopes and fears that the average person experiences during this trying era of social distancing and new cultural norms.”
Leipego’s photography of rural life in Botswana is inspired by curiosity – something he says he inherited from his grandfather, who also features in many of his photographs. Letso is inquisitive about light: his work emphasises contrast, and a stylized manipulation of light and shadow. This playful illumination evokes the artist’s motivation for creating the work. Letso “makes pictures that call attention to things that the observer tends to overlook”.
His interest in light and darkness extends to a curiosity about people living beyond mainstream urban society, whose stories and histories are seldom illuminated with the same intensity as in his striking photographs. Leipego is represented by Guns and Rain and his first solo exhibition in Johannesburg took place in 2018. His work has been shown at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair (2019), and is included in the ARAK collection (Qatar) and Amawal Collection (Spain) among others.