For the South African visual artist known as Xopher Wallace, it all began with a recurring dream he had as a child. He would see himself speak to people around him, but they never responded. And just as he looked at his reflection, he started to realize that he was nothing but a silhouette.
Back in 2017, he decided to adopt the facade of anonymity and took an alias of what we know today. To keep his identity a secret, he puts on goggles, a morph suit, and a sweatshirt in his photographs. He chose such a way of life to preserve ‘his authentic character’ and for people to focus mainly on his art.
“In society, I think we’re under pressure to only show the good side in our lives, whereas in my work I express even some of my negative feelings or feelings that make me feel uncomfortable,” Wallace said.
He tries to merge the real and virtual worlds to bring his dreams to life using a blend of fine art photography and augmented reality. He has been inspired by the Japanese anime series “Mob Psycho 100,” which uses imagery resembling the silhouette that he saw in his dreams.
“For me, dealing with empty spaces is also dealing with an empty canvas, so I could decorate it as much as I want,” said Wallace. He explained that he could shoot day or night and digitally add extra visual elements such as lights or smoke.
As the pandemic forced nationwide lockdowns and the galleries across the country couldn’t host any visitors, Wallace decided to host his online exhibition named “Inside/Outside,” inviting other South African visual artists to showcase their work. Nearly 5,000 visitors flocked to the online event on its first day.
Building an online presence has helped Wallace bring his work to a larger audience and provided a promising platform to other African digital artists.
“Times are changing,” he said. “People are looking into investing into the virtual realm instead of physical spaces.”
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