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 courtesy of 1-54/SUTTON.

1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair Landing in Marrakech is 2018's Most Anticipated Art Event

The leading art fair dedicated to contemporary African art makes its mark on the continent for the first time this weekend.

This weekend, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, the leading art fair devoted to contemporary African art, will debut in Marrakech, Morocco. The announcement of the Fair's expansion to the continent last year has left aficionados of contemporary African art in eager anticipation of this "homecoming"—this author included.

1-54 debuted in London in 2013. Although an expansion to New York followed, a presence on the continent was always part of the long-term vision of the founder Touria El Glaoui. Finally, the time has now arrived.

Here are five reasons why we're looking forward to 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair Marrakech.

Keep reading... Show less

This Olympic Figure Skater Blew Us Away Again By Pulling Off a Costume Change Mid-Routine

First Maé-Bérénice Méité performed to Beyoncé, now she's effortlessly slaying outfit changes mid-routine. What can't she do?

French-Congolese and Ivorian figure skater, Maé-Bérénice Méité, has pretty much been the life of the Winter Olympic figure skating competition.

Earlier this month, the athlete had the internet shook when she performed her opening routine to two Beyoncé songs. Now she's back with even more black girl magic.

Keep reading... Show less
Video still via YouTube.

10 Stand Out Moments From Janelle Monáe's Powerful Music Videos

Janelle Monae came back making a statement—and we're just as obsessed as you are.

We've got to talk about Janelle Monáe.

Over the past half decade, she's embarked on a profound journey that's solidified her as an artist, creator and activist who isn't afraid to shoot down the stars—or shoot with them.

After having roles in Hidden Figures and Moonlight—two Oscar nominated movies where one won an Oscar, a stellar speech at the Grammy's and a stunning presence at the Black Panther red carpet, she's ready to grace us with "Dirty Computer," the latest musical venture in her Afrofuturistic saga.

To whet our appetites before the album, which is set to release on April 27, Janelle dropped not one but two music videos yesterday. Both are distinctly entertaining: one is a black, intersectional feminist anthem and the other a psychedelic soundtrack of sexual fluidity.

Watch both, then read some of the highlights we gathered from the hypnotizing visuals and powerful wordplay.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.