Sean Metelerkamp
Born 1984 in Knysna, South Africa.
Sean’s fascination with photography began at the age of sixteen in the darkroom at boarding school. To escape his small-town South African surroundings, he immersed himself in the surreal music videos of MTV on his rare visits home.
Sean’s career started in Cape Town in 2008 photographing local musicians and directing music videos. The most notable of these was a collaboration with Die Antwoord in 2009. After directing the Zef Side music video, which was selected as one of the Top 25 Videos in YouTube Play and exhibited at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York in 2010, Sean was invited to a six-month residency in New York with Residency Unlimited.
A pattern of immersive photographic inquiry began in 2010 when Sean’s brother was committed to the Drug Education Council Ministries in Noupoort. DEC is an eight-month, end-of-the-line rehabilitation facility for substance abuse and addiction, and upon request, Sean was accepted into the Ministry as a sympathetic relative for month-long stays over four years. Those on the program who volunteered to be photographed became conduits of a visual and verbal dialogue for someone trying to understand, and therefore better deal with, the devastating situation of a loved one suffering the disease of addiction.
Noupoort is due for release in 2018.
As somewhat of a solitary personality, Sean has automatically worked with subject matter on the edges of society. Building relationships on this frontier, and letting his curiosities at the time lead him, the photographer and film-maker has produced work from Death Grips, an elusive hip-hop cult phenomenon, to Monte Rosa, a government-funded retirement home for estranged or isolated elders needing care, and music videos for Fokofpolisiekar (Fuckoffpolicecar), an Afrikaans alternative rock band embroiled in controversy since its inception.
For the last several years, Sean looked closely at varying South African identities and cultures, committed himself to examining the ways people and society relate to their worlds and each other and explored what getting left behind might mean when times or realities change.
In 2014, twenty years after the in-statement of democracy, Sean traveled the country examining the extent to which former democratic president and “Grandfather of the Nation” Nelson Mandela’s vision had been achieved. Twenty Journey was a successfully-funded Kickstarter project that enabled him to travel with two fellow photographers from different cultural backgrounds and age groups for seven months to capture all nine provinces of their homeland. The journey culminated in two independently acclaimed follow-up releases. The first was a self-published Twenty Journey Booklet which was nominated for Design Indaba’s annual “Most Beautiful Object in South Africa” award. The second was a  documentary,  “The Journeymen – Details of a puzzled country”,  a non-linear portrait of South Africa today.  Sean opened the country’s most prestigious film festival, the Durban International Film Festival, with the film in 2016 and won the award for Best South African Documentary for this first feature-length contribution.
Sean’s work has been exhibited and screened at galleries and festivals across the world. He has given lectures at universities, colleges and communities in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban and continues to explore the world through his peculiar and profound lens.