Puleng Mongale (b. 1991) uses her vivid collages as a way to connect with her Sotho heritage. Having originally studied communications science and English at the University of South Africa, as well as pursuing copywriting at Umuzi, a creative hub based in Jeppestown, she decided to explore the art world more seriously.
Mongale's artistic expression is mostly influenced by the stories of the women in her life; women who raised her and women in her family who she has heard about but never met, such as her late great-grandmother, after whom she is named. She also draws inspiration from the black, working-class women she encounters daily in the city.
Working in digital collage, Mongale explores her identity through an internal dialogue that revolves around a re-imagined history, the establishment and maintenance of ancestral relationships, black womanhood, and re/claiming her heritage.
Mongale finds that her collage work, through self-portraiture, allows her to put together pieces of worlds she's never been a part of and worlds that she's trying to forge right now. Her imagined, photoshopped landscapes are vivid renderings of a life she yearns for. She says living in Johannesburg has always made her feel slightly displaced: “Joburg is an eclectic mix of cultures but is somehow dominated by one particular culture/language.”