Arts + Culture
Photo still via Vice i-D

Seen and Fab: This New Documentary Explores South Africa's Queer Art Scene

A new generation of LGBTQI artists in South Africa are at the forefront of a cultural movement that's changing everything.

If it were true that groundbreaking beauty and creativity are all it takes to have one's humanity fully recognized by the world, then the queer South African artists featured in the new Vice i-D documentary, Out of This World, would be free to love who they choose and their lives would not be the daily acts of courage that documentaries are made of. But that's not the world we live in. As it stands, the LGBTQI dancers, fashion designers, painters, and performance artists of South Africa are using an otherworldly mix of identity and style to create a movement that is defiantly fresh and uniquely South African.


Narrated by New York based rapper, performance artist, and activist Mykki Blanco, Out of This World, traverses South Africa as Blanco follows the creatives of the Born Free Generation (the generation born post-apartheid) who are pioneering a new cultural queer movement. For those who are familiar with the 1990 documentary Paris is Burning about the queer ball scene in NYC that was a hotbed of new ideas that nourished a community, the scene in South Africa seems familiar. But on closer look, one sees that there are marked differences.

For one, not all of the artists who were profiled have been rejected by their communities. Fashion designer Rich Mnisi spoke about the large role that his family plays in the creation of his designs.



"My family is so supportive. They all put in their two cents. Everyone wants to put in a suggestion!", he says in the documentary. Mnisi also add that coming out to his mother was simply a matter of introducing her to his boyfriend.

And there are balls like there were in NYC in the late 80s and early 90s, but there are also events called "Cunty power" ("cunty," as in cunt) parties thrown by the performance art duo, FAKA.

At the balls, there's a bit of the drag show vibe, but there are also full on performance art pieces. In one memorable sequence, Blanco does an extended performance piece where he rips off his wig and fiercely bites it, shaking it between his teeth, and glaring at the audience.

But the doc is full of the tenderness of queer folks acknowledging each other's existences and the raw urgency of friends coming together to make art. The sequences where the artists collaborate and speak about the necessity of creating a new queer narrative form the crux of the documentary.

"Queer erasure is a terrible thing. Our queerness is the reason we are creative. it's not just a side thing, like 'he's an amazing artist who happens to be queer.' No, we are creative BECAUSE we are queer," Fela Gucci of FAKA says.

With the courage that creativity and queerness demands, these artists are carving paths that can't be ignored. Check out the documentary on Vice i-D to see for yourself.



Photo by Nii Kotei Nikoi.

These Ghanaian Women Artists Publicly Chart Paths to Healing from Sexual Violence

Mixtape Notes To The Shadows is a collaborative mixed media exhibition that uses art to show the complex process of healing.

How do you trap a shadow? How do you hold onto to something that slips out of your hands and appears when you step into the light? In Ghanaian society, which is predominantly patriarchal, issues like sexual violence and harassment are treated as shadows, suppressed and left to brood in the dark, unspoken and unaddressed. Despite the undocumented number of people who are tormented by these shadows, it's hard to confront something that society does not believe exists in the way that you experience it.

Dr. Sionne Rameah Neely and Josephine Ngminvielu Kuuire, who are artists and survivors of sexual violence, decided to draw out these demons and shadows by leaving notes for them through art. Mixtape Notes To The Shadows, their collaborative mixed media exhibition and performance, was an open surgery on sexual trauma inviting witnesses as they chart their respective journeys to healing.

Keep reading... Show less
Music

This Documentary Takes You Inside South Africa’s Biggest Trap Movement, ATM

Watch the Emtee-directed and produced documentary about ATM.

South African rapper and singer Emtee and his producer Ruff started a movement when they released "Roll Up" in 2015.

Keep reading... Show less
Music

EL’s ‘BAR 4’ Is One of the Strongest African Hip-Hop Releases of the Year

Ghanaian rapper EL declares himself the best African rapper for the fourth time, and we are tempted to believe him.

Prolific Ghanaian rapper El's Bar mixtape series is on its fourth iteration in just three years.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.