Lebogang Mokgoko’s #GeekGirlz is a fashion editorial drawing inspiration from the sense of suburban banality within youth culture of the 1980s. The story follows model Miya Twala in a series of nostalgic moments shot in South Africa in 2016. Here, Sarah Koopman responds to his images with words inspired by the complicated concept of ‘nostalgia’ in her personal context living in a post-apartheid South Africa.¬†
In muted shades and soft light, you slowly conjure up the romance of a moment long gone, trying desperately to coax time backwards so that you can soak up a feeling once more. The first time was not enough. More than a memory ‚Äì a flash of light or a recollection of a sound ‚Äì you are aching for a feeling. The brush of a breeze against your skin; your senses responding to every stimulus; a longing for how things once were. Unlike the momentary memories that spin you back to a specific time and place, this longing is not fleeting. It is a constant reminder of the passing of time. Fading slowly, with blurry edges at first, eventually you are left remembering in brush strokes, in the washed-out powdery colours of an out-of-focus photograph.
It is a tug-of-war as you realise you cannot be sure whether you are remembering correctly. Whether you are longing for the days that slipped past you or whether you wove together an idealist‚Äôs dreamscape and then cloaked yourself in it. And then you decide that it doesn‚Äôt really matter; you can‚Äôt go back there anyway. It‚Äôs easier to let your mind float on imagined breezes than to weigh yourself down with fact checking the details. Knowing how you felt ‚Äì or how you thought you did ‚Äì is enough.
But it is too easy to be caught in the glow of these moments. To look back and gloss over the bumps in the road. It is effortless to imagine a time when it was easier, when things were seemingly perfect. We forget that we are flawed, that not every day was a good one ‚Äì no matter how long we think the glory lasted. We think back and place ourselves squarely in the moments where anything was possible; where we looked ahead and saw nothing but opportunity and prospects.
Calling South Africa home comes with this difficult and dangerous to-and-fro. So relieved to be free of struggle, that we can forget how long and hard the climb was. And for me, spared the weight of The Struggle, the rainbow afterglow is alluring and masks the harrowing road that preceded it. As I‚Äôve grown and the South Africa I thought I knew as a child has started to lose some of its sparkle, I find myself aching for the feeling of knowing a little less. A nostalgia for naivety. A longing for innocence; for blurry edges and brush stroke-memories that melt into one another. I look back on days untainted and imagine I‚Äôm back there, losing myself in the hazy glow of easy laughter, unbridled play and the simplicity of childhood. Unchallenged and unrestrained, the world was at my feet and I was invited to dance all over the new future that stretched out endlessly in front of me.
It is easy to get caught in the backward glances of these moments, and perhaps sometimes it is good to surrender to them. To get lost; to indulge the ache and the longing. They will always be the days that slipped past you, you may as well fill your canvas with the colours you want to remember them in.
Creative Direction and Photography by Lebogang Mokgoko @mynameislebo
Assistant Photographer: Size Mbiza @sizembiza
MUA: Mishel Coetzee @misshellcoetzee
Model: Miya Twala @miya_twala
Words by Sarah Koopman