Queer and Trans Art-iculations: an exhibition

by Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Wits Art Museum

by Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Wits Art Museum

I had never attended an art exhibition opening with so many people before. Bodies overflowed from the Wits Art Museum onto the streets. Bodies dressed in waistcoats, slender neck ties, skinny black pants and All-Star sneakers. Bodies squeezed into tight lace dresses. Bodies walking around confidently, aware that this exhibition was, more than anything, about them. And indeed, this particular exhibition’s subjects were to be found among the crowd. Having never been to a gay parade, I had never been exposed to such a high concentration of homosexuality.

Queer and Trans Art-iculations is a collaboration of two incredible visual activists: Zanele Muholi and Gabrielle Le Roux. Hosted by the Wits Art Museum in partnership with the Wits Centre for Diversity Studies and Inkanyiso, the exhibition opened up with the popular freedom cry ‘Amandla!’ and the lively crowd did not disappoint: ‘Amandla!’ they shouted back, fists in the air. For a while it seemed I had come to the wrong place.

Pregs Govender, Deputy Chair of the South African Human Rights Commission, pointed out that there is “mourning in this place”. I took a second to look around and saw faces belonging to gays, lesbians, people who were mourning the loss of loved ones, loss of respect, loss of human rights and loss of self. This mourning, a result of others’ intolerance. However, “We are not gathered here just in mourning” declared Pregs, “but in celebration of the power each of us possesses”.

Pregs Govender

Pregs Govender

Bongi, one of the subjects of Zanele's work

Bongi, one of the subjects of Zanele’s work

Zanele leading the struggle songs

Zanele leading the struggle songs

When I looked into the faces of the subjects in Zanele’s work, I felt like I knew them. Those eyes that looked back were so familiar, like those of people we grew up with. The interpretation of art lies in the beholder yet I strongly feel that this must have been Zanele’s intention – that feeling of familiarity. The queer and transsexual faces looked back at me; some angry, some smiling, some seemed to flirt while others evoked a deep sense of sadness. When one walks into the exhibition space, the wall covered with portraits is the first thing you would notice (that’s if you don’t look down at the symbolic graves of those who lost their lives to the impudence, bigotry and ignorance of our fellow countrymen). A powerful sight, these images are accompanied by facts of just some of the homosexual individuals who have been victim to the LGBTI hate-crimes.

‘The works of both [Zanele and Gabrielle] speak to the complexities, challenges, freedoms and dangers of living beyond the gender binary’. And as Bongi, one of Zanele’s subjects appealed “Let’s do something… the silence of bystanders hurts even more”. I looked at the faces and I read the facts. By the time I reached the makeshift house (possibly a symbol of one’s body) whose walls were covered with personal accounts of rape, threats and heartache, my own heart bled for these men and (in particular) women. One read how these individuals have to constantly fight to be who they are, they have to live each day in fear, have to be ashamed of who they are.

Hearing Zanele speak, one realises that she has transpired beyond the role of ‘victim’ to that of ‘overcomer’. As she divulged, her surname means ‘leader’ and through her art and strength, she has been just that. I now look at a note I made that night and it reads: “Only a few minutes ago my heart bled for the victims of curial rape, now my heart swarms with hope that we will realise a society that accepts people for who they are. A society that has progressed beyond meaningless and unnecessary categorisations. This I now believe…”

A gay affair...

A gay affair…

"Let me take a selfie"

“Let me take a selfie”

Taking in their surroundings

Taking in their surroundings

Candice and Katlego

Candice and Katlego

As I was about to call it a night I encountered two striking women (hmmm, or woman and ‘man’, eish, who cares?). So I encountered these two tall beauties and asked to photograph them. They wilfully obliged. “Until we reach such a time where we do not have to protest, or march, or be asked whether we are a man or woman, until such a time we no longer have to have these exhibitions where we voice ourselves – that is when we will have obtained freedom”. Candice’s words lingered and twirled and danced with me as I headed home. That’s when I connect what is happening to the LGBTI community to the seemingly misplaced struggle songs and that powerful ‘Amandla!’ chorus. That’s when I got it.

See the exhibition
Venue: Wits Art Museum
Dates: January 30 – March 30, 2014
Times: exhibition facilitators available (Wed-Sun) 10:00 to 16:00

For more information contact the Wits Art Museum aon info.wam@wits.ac.za or call 011 717 1378

Lots of LoVe,
Amandla

Whitenicious: White is the New Black

Black Beauty... image from that1960chick.com

Black Beauty… image from that1960chick.com

Before today I had never heard of this “international Pop singer”: I have no idea what her music even sounds like! But Nigerian-Cameroonian Dencia launched what her company dubs “a high-end skin care product” which has the ability transform black skin to gorgeous fair skin because they believe that black people have been marginalized by international cosmetic companies and endured decades of neglect. I’m not kidding you, that’s what it says on their website.

Aptly titled, Whitenicious, this product’s main aim is to make black people look white. After reading up on this product and encountering the baffling news that the range sold out within a day, I realised just how naïve I have been. The signs have been everywhere. Just watch Beyoncè’s videos and take a look at our very own Mshoza; she sees skin lightening as a personal choice, no different from breast implants or a having nose job. And honestly, I have to agree with Mshoza though. When have you encountered a black woman who had a nose job done to make it flatter, bigger, more black? There you go.

Dencia4

Dencia

Dencia2

It’s about beauty and our perceptions of beauty. It’s about wanting to live a certain lifestyle. It’s about self-perception. It’s the challenges faced by blacks which whites seem immune to. It’s about our history. It’s about following tends.

LoVe yourself,
Amandla

NV Hairstylists

NV Hairstylists

As a young girl my mom had to constantly remind me that “ubuhle buyanyamezelwa”, implying that if I wanted to be beautiful I would have to hold back the tears as the hairdresser burnt my scalp with the relaxer cream, then the hairdryer, then with the curling tongs. I hated visits to the hair salon. And that fear has stayed with me for years.

In December of last year I paid one of the many Joburg CBD hair salons a visit. All I wanted was a wash. Usually I do my own hair. That is how I have been able to avoid hair salons for the past 15 odd years. so I walk into this salon and calm myself down: it’s just a wash, how bad could it possibly be? Within a few seconds of the hairdresser touching my head I was teleported to my days as a young girl. The woman’s long nails dug into head, almost tearing my scalp open. This woman was not playing; she was literally fighting with my hair. Water was splashing on my face, crawling into my ears and trickling down my back. I sighed with relief once that was over. Then came hair drying time. My heart started racing and I could not help but cringe. I knew what was coming – and it came, alright.

My hair was pulled and tugged with a fine comb (how could this woman not have seen that I walked in with an afro?), the scalding brutality of the hot air stung my poor scalp. I recalled my mom’s words and I endured. Finally the woman let go and packed away the dryer. She then gave me a comb so that I could style my own hair – seriously!

Nonie

Nonie

With this daunting memory still fresh in my mind, I cautiously entered the Good Hair Today salon in Commissioner Street. Minimalist, spacious, chic and unbelievably clean, I was welcomed by friendly staff who took the time to look me in the eye and smile as they spoke. I introduced myself to Barbara, the NV Hairstylist I would have to trust with my hair.

“The NV Hairstylist concept came about when I partnered with a friend with the intention of starting up a salon”, shared Nonhlanhla ‘Nonie’ Nxumalo. In 2013 Nonie started a weave-selling business called Nuovo Hair. Because of the high quality and cost of the weave, many of Nonie’s clients worried that black hairdressers just didn’t know how to correctly install weaves. Nonie saw the opportunity to increase her income stream by providing her clients with experts to install the weaves. And so, NV Hairstylists was born.

While doing her salon research, Nonie came across Good Hair Today Salon. “The salon is owned by internationally acclaimed American hairstylist, Brian Warfield. Warfield has been in this industry for about 20 years.” As a company, NV Hairstylists rents out a chair from Good Hair Today and employ hairstylists. The NV Hairstylists started operating this January and already, judging by their facebook page, have accumulated a satisfied clientele. Barbara is currently the only NV Hairstylist but more are scheduled to arrive to meet the demand. Although specialising in weaves, Barbara let me know that NV Hairstylists do all kinds of hair and hair treatment.

Before...

Before…

Washing...

Washing…

Drying...

Drying…

Scalp care..

Scalp care..

You’re probably wondering how I handled my salon experience with Barbara… Well, she started off with washing my afro. Unlike the ordeal of my past experiences, this time I received a head massage. Barbara’s fingers gently caressed my scalp and I felt so relaxed. From the basin to the chair and I watched anxiously as the dreaded hairdryer was pulled out of the drawer. I held my breath. But there was no need. Barbara used a big wide-toothed comb and not once did I feel the burn of the hairdryer. Because I had just removed hair extensions, Barbara informed me that my hair needed to recover and so she would not plait my hair, opting to style it instead. It’s touching how a hairstylist can have such a concern for a client’s hair – as Siphiwe, the salon’s manager stated “We do not chase after money, we ensure that the client is educated about her hair”. And this cements why NV Hairstylists is at this particular hair salon.

After Barbara announced that she would style my hair I had no idea that it meant that the bloody curling tongs would be whipped out. To be technically correct, the latest version of the tongs, the flat iron, is whipped out. “I really don’t like those…” I confide in Barbara. I briefly explain how previous hairdressers almost burnt my ears off with the thing. Barbara smiles warmly and assures me that all will be fine. And to my great relief, it is.

I couldn’t believe it. I had a genuinely good experience at a hair salon. I walked in nervous and petrified and walked out feeling confident and beautiful. Needless to say, Barbara has not seen the last of me.

After...

After…



Visit the NV Hairstylists

Good Hair Today Salon
35 Surrey House
Corner Commissioner and Rissik Streets
Johannesburg CBD
011 492 0484

Thabisa… Her Journey COMING SOON

Jozichic interviewed Thabisa at Main Street, Joburg CBD

Jozichic interviewed Thabisa at Main Street, Joburg CBD

This past weekend I had the great privilege of interviewing an artist I have admired for years, literally. Thabisa hails from the Eastern Cape and her bubbly personality, her sensitivity and appreciation for nature combined with a soulful voice make this woman one of the Top Artists to watch out for in 2014.

Signed to Tammy Music, Thabisa’s debut album, The Journey, is available at all good music stores. Check her out on facebook.

Keep an eye out for our exclusive interview with Thabisa… Coming Soon.

LoVe,
Amandla

You’re Beautiful, Seriously

You are Beautiful

You are Beautiful

My beloved shared a Dove advert with me and it made me realise that many of us women honestly do not believe that we are beautiful. According to the Dove campaign, “You are more beautiful than you think.” I watched the video and, as much as I don’t like to admit, I felt tears welling up in my eyes. The campaign hit home: as a new mom with a body that is still undergoing so many changes, I came to the realisation that I too, did not believe that I am beautiful.

Because of the impact this advert had on me as woman, it is fitting that I share the video with our female readers. You need to believe that you are truly beautiful.

The Dove Real Beauty Sketches Campaign was awarded Best Ad for 2013. Watch the video.

For more information on the campaign, visit the Dove website.

LoVe,
Amandla

Unapologetically High-Tech and Masculine: the 4N-MVT01

4n

What makes one appreciate a work of art, a fine garment or elegant piece of jewellery? The process of creation. Knowing what someone went through to create that irresistibly rich chocolate cake and knowing how many sleepless nights went into producing an intricate although small interior décor item. Knowing that process and seeing the little bits that make up the whole does indeed lend to a greater appreciation of the craft, the creation and the creator.

I am not one to strap a watch to my wrist but after laying my eyes on a certain elaborately masculine and sexy time piece, I knew that things would change from now on. Although released back in 2012, this watch is set to be on this year’s Most Wanted list. According to the creators, 4N (the French watchmaking company) “has mastered time with a modern concept housing a mechanical heart – looking forward while still paying homage to the time-honoured basics of watchmaking “.

And so, without further ado, we present the 4N-MVT01 model.

pic from thewatch.watchfinder.co.uk

pic from thewatchquote.com

pic from nytimes.com

pic from t3.com

The 4N-MVT01 watch retails for about € 150 000 (just over R2 million).

Visit the 4N website for more information.

Watch the video for a glimpse into the machanisms of the 4N-MVT01.

LoVe,
Amandla

Hot Designers 2014: Sindiso Khumalo

Sindiso Kumalo... image from elle.co.za

Sindiso Kumalo… image from elle.co.za

We kick off this year with one of the designers Jozichic fell in love with in 2013 and we foresee her becoming a household name when it comes to SA Fashion. This young lady combines her architectural background with her passion for textiles and chic style to produce fashion with an edge and class.

Of her brand, Sindiso Khumalo says: “I really want my brand to be more about a sensibility and an attitude. The woman I design for has an attitude about clothing and about how she puts things together in her life. She could be really young, or very mature, but still shares a similar sensibility with the brand.”

Sindiso has already accomplished quite a lot: she has worked with award-winning architect David Adjaye; was chosen as a finalist for the 2012 ELLE South Africa Rising Star Award; has had one of her dresses nominated as the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa at this year’s Design Indaba; and this years sees her clothing stocked at Luminance, Khanyi Dhlomo’s luxury store.

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For more information on Sindiso Khumalo, visit the website and facebook page

With LoVe,
Amandla