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.



Interview

Kofi Jamar Switches Lanes In 'Appetite for Destruction'

The Ghanaian rapper and "Ekorso" hitmaker presents a different sound in his latest EP.

The drill scene in Ghana has been making waves across the continent for some time now. If you're hip to what a crop of young and hungry artists from the city of Kumasi in Ghana and beyond have been doing over the past year, then you already know about rapper Kofi Jamar.

Towards the end of November last year he dropped one of the biggest drill songs to emerge from Ghana's buzzing drill scene, the popular street anthem "Ekorso." In the December and January that followed, "Ekorso" was the song on everyone's lips, the hip-hop song that took over the season, with even the likes of Wizkid spotted vibing to the tune.

Currently sitting at over 10 million streams across digital streaming platforms, the song topped charts, even breaking records in the process. "Ekorso" maintained the number one spot on Apple Music's Hip-Hop/Rap: Ghana chart for two months uninterrupted, a first in the history of the chart. It also had a good stint at number one of the Ghana Top 100 chart as well, among several other accolades.

Even though he's the creator of what could be the biggest song of Ghana's drill movement till date, Kofi Jamar doesn't plan on replicating his past music or his past moves. He has just issued his second EP, a 6-track project titled Appetite for Destruction, and it would surprise you to know that there isn't a single drill song on it. Although drill played a huge role in his meteoric rise, he wants to be known as way more than just a drill rapper. He wants to be known as a complete and versatile artist, unafraid to engage in any genre — and he even looks forward to creating his own genre of music during the course of his career.

We spoke to Kofi Jamar about his latest EP, and he tells us about working with Teni, why he's gravitating away from drill to a new sound, and more. Check out our conversation below.

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