Born in South Africa to parents of Indian ancestry, and currently based in Johannesburg, Dinika Govender’s work is situated at the intersection of diasporic identity, cultural amorphisms and architectures of power. Working with words and images to capture the subtext of lived experiences, Govender’s work spans poetry, storytelling and visual art.
As the elder daughter of an anti-Apartheid activist turned educator father and an independent feminist mother who made her way in academia and the corporate world, Govender’s lens on the world has been duo-toned from the start. She is sensitive to class struggles faced by people of colour in a globalised marketplace, and is also privy to the mechanising of such systems. Her academic and early professional background in the fields of commerce, strategy and innovation afforded her greater insight into, and experience, in these mechanisms.
Propelled to understand the history and politics of culture and self-love in order to carve a personal space for critical imagination to thrive, Govender finds herself drawn to words and mixed media.
Her images making up the series and poetry performance entitled T he Fifth Screen comprise mixed media in a lo-fi, high-contrast yet muted format. These evoke the sense of being muted and moved in the presence of power. Her visual meditations on urban spaces and architecture are, in some ways, odes to the aesthetic value and divisive power of the built environment - a duality.
Together with her poetry, Govender seeks to add more ways of seeing and remembering - ways that do not rely on linguistic architectures of colonialism. It is a project she describes as, “something we are only small parts of - each adding our truths to build a richer, truer tapestry of life - so that our great great grandchildren might feel less invisible.”