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.



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Photo: WH Moustapha

Mdou Moctar Announces Debut Album 'Afrique Victime'

The album is a collaboration between Mdou, his band members and his rhythm guitarist Ahmoudou Madassane.

Matador Records has announced that the eagerly anticipated album Afrique Victime by Mdou Moctar will be released on May 21.

Afrique Victime is an unprecedented collaboration between Mdou, his band members, and Ahmoudou Madassane, who's been his rhythm guitarist since 2008. The album will present an effortless fusion of Saharan and rock music; melding guitar pyrotechnics, full-blast noise, and field recordings with poetic meditations.

You might have come across Mdou on Off White's "Imaginary TV" channel, who designer Virgil Abloh called, "one of my favorite musicians Rn."

Mdou's desert village Agadez, in rural Niger, is his source of inspiration. He attributes his artistic style to traditional Tuareg melodies and YouTube videos of Eddie Van Halen's six string techniques. Mdou has also worked on film projects. He wrote, produced, and starred in the first Tuareg language film: a remake of Purple Rain called Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai– which translates to "Rain The Color Of Blue With A Little Red In It." This earned him approval from his community and popularity across West Africa. This soon led to world tours and albums on the independent US label Sahel Sounds, including 2019's landmark Ilana: The Creator, which earned Mdou an international audience.

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