Tony Gum: Young, carefree, made in Africa

Labelled the coolest girl in Cape Town, “Artist in learning” Tony Gum tells us about her creative philosophy and why she is often her own muse.

From the Series

“My design philosophy is ‘Africa is worth it, black people are worth it, people of colour are worth it, and as a whole the human race is worth it’. We need to show the importance of excelling as black people.”

Tony Gum is still in her second year of film studies at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, but she has been making waves in the local art scene with her powerful photographic series. Gum’s Black Coca Cola series places Coca Cola – a global product – as a proudly African brand. In this series, as in most of her work, Gum uses images of herself.

I paint myself more so because I know myself best, and I take photos of myself because I know myself best. That has always been the case.

Gum claims that she doesn’t “embrace” Western ideas in her African-focused art, instead she “includes” them: drawing inspiration from both worlds without allowing one to colonise the other. Her latest project, Milked in Africa, touches on the issues that colonialism and exploitation have caused in todays society.

“I really don’t know what I have planned for the future, and I think that is the beauty of running carefree in your industry. I’m young, so I can afford to do that – but at the same time I am still studying, so all of this is part time. It’s not like I am being wreckless with my life. Which I do support as well…”

Watch the Talk with Tony Gum