Photos

Queer South African Performance Art Duo FAKA Slays For Unlabelled Magazine

Issue three of South African youth culture magazine Unlabelled features an intimate photos series with queer performance collective FAKA

Images courtesy of Unlabelled Magazine


Unlabelled is a South African youth culture publication founded by Johannesburg-based entrepreneur Phendu Kuta. Since its inception in August 2014, the online magazine has run a steady stream of carefully-curated editorials and features, like this dope profile on DJ Doowap and this vibrant photo series from Nikki ZakkasUnlabelled recently published their stunning third issue. One highlight this installment is a run-down on a pair of powerful queer tastemakers.

Performance art duo turned queer culture movement, FAKA is comprised of best friends FelaGucci and Desire Marea. The two work together to create performances that reflect the complexity of being black and queer in South Africa. "We use performance as a medium to manifest the realities that we desire for the black queer South African," the pair told Unlabelled.

"We feel that there is a lack of a wide and true representation of queer voices in popular media," they continue in the interview. "Our voices are never given the platform to be expressed by us hence we've taken it upon ourselves to do this. We are not willing to Wait for Lorraine." In the future, FAKA seeks to strengthen their archive of young black queer people and to create an LGBTI organization and support system.

The piece, titled Faka- Exploring Our Complex Identities Through Performance, is paired with an intimate photo series shot by Khongi Sono with art direction from Size Mbiza and Mongezi Mcelu. Head to Unlabelled for the full spread. Keep up with FAKA on Tumblr/Facebook/Soundcloud.

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Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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