Born in South Africa to parents of Indian ancestry, and currently based in Johannesburg, Dinika Govender’s work is situated at the intersections 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 working and middle 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 - ones that reveal themselves to be anti-poor, anti-femme and anti-black across the world.
Propelled to understand why it is that femmes and queer of colour are systemically undervalued and ill-treated globally why success is defined according to a globally accepted set of material desires and why her own people - South African Indians - seem trapped in a system of assimilating to colonial aesthetics whilst holding onto their political blackness, Govender finds her space of creation in words, narratives and the architectures of cultural hegemony.
Her images comprise mixed media in a lo-fi, high-contrast yet muted format, evoking the sense of being muted and moved in the presence of power. Her visual meditations on urban spaces and architecture mirror are, in some ways, odes to the aesthetic value and divisive power of the built environment.
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.”