Odd Artist of the Month: Dembe Fiona Davhana

Biography of Dembe Fiona Davhana

Dembe Fiona Davhana is a 23-year-old artist who was born in Thohoyandou, Limpopo Province. She lived in Venda for six years before moving to Johannesburg to stay with her mother. Fiona now resides in New Doornfontein, Johannesburg  Central.

She did her primary education at Birch Acres primary school where the only creative thing she could do was take part in the school eisteddfod. Although she did not do any creative subjects at school, she always made time to engage herself in different artistic projects outside of school.

She taught herself how to do effective writing through poetry and short stories.  She is also a self-taught doodle and digital artist.

After completing high school studies at Norkem Park High School, she enrolled at Boston Media House for a Diploma in Media Studies where she learned about the technical as well as practical aspects of using a camera. She, unfortunately, could not complete her diploma due to financial challenges but developed a passion for photography.

Dembe is currently a freelancer doing mostly portraiture but her spare time, focuses on self-portraiture, street and contemporary photography, doodling as well as writing. She photographs on a digital camera, capturing mostly visual elements such as lines, texture as well as pattern and repetition.

For her doodles, her favourite mediums are black canvas, blank paper as well as wooden boards using either acrylic paint, markers or oil pastels. Sometimes a combination of all three if the artwork is mixed media.

Fiona’s work has gotten featured in an online Brooklyn based magazine, AfroPunk, in 2016. The magazine is globally known for creating safe spaces for creatives in the queer community, mostly those who are black.

Fiona exhibited at the J&B Hive in 2018 under her first name ‘Dembe’  and has recently taken part of a group exhibition at Victoria Yards with the Through The Lens Collective.

One of Many
Part Of Many
There Were Many
Third Time’s A Charm

Artist Statement

My photographic work has been largely influenced by historic aspects of fine arts and contemporary photography. Living in a time where most people see history as non-relevant, I have made a habit of referencing past photographers and their work to recreate visual communication using the style of modern contemporary.

My photography ranges from nude, street, contemporary photography as well as portraiture of both self and other subjects.

I try not to create an obvious body of work so I make it a point that I create/ photograph with the intention of leaving my audience drawn to what I do and filled with the wonder of why I choose to execute it in the manner chosen.

Often focussing on the subject of females owning their bodies; I photograph myself to help other women realise that their body is already the very home they spend most of their lives searching for and that there is nothing to be ashamed of when bare, showing skin.

My work is intended to create conversation, debates about normalising what society has taught us to hide or be ashamed of, more especially women. My photography plays a role not only in my acceptance of the constantly evolving world we live in but also that of those who are too afraid to accept change.

Apart from photography, I also spend some of my time doodling as well as writing.

I make use of two visual elements, mostly, which are lines and shapes. Sometimes I allow myself to explore patterns & repetition as well as texture and this is usually in my mixed media artworks.

I started writing at the age of 10 because, during that period of my existence, it was the best way I knew how to survive as a child. I still use writing as a tool to express myself and sometimes share ideas with like-minded individuals but most times I write, it is about the experience, and whatever may be happening in my life at that point in time.