young south african artists, performance artists in south africa, south african yoth art scene,

This post has been a long time coming. Just about every other young South African with internet connection or an actual smartphone (don’t tell my blackberry curve 9320 I wrote this) has a sort of visual diary. Be it tumblr or instagram or even old facebook. Between 2011 and 2013 I lived on tumblr and “curated”, which I have since deleted, and that’s when I refined what spoke to me in terms of art and visuals. The following people stand out for me and I really care about what they’re making and sharing. You should probably care too.

Jody Brand is a Cape Town-based photographer who actually moves in the “high-brow” fine arts circles. Like, she hit them books. Or whatever. Her tumblr is one of my favourite things on the internet, so much so I’ve previously shared her photography here and there. Chomma is documentary archival stuff, time and place stuff. It has gorgeous vibes and whenever I’m on there I always have “wasted youth” floating in my head only the youth is working and making shit happen. On Jody Brand’s tumblr you will usually see her friends and collaborators (and fellow artists) ranging from Bee Diamondhead and Angel Ho to Dope St Jude, Rharha and Petite Noir.

She’s probably forgotten but back in 2012, Thandiwe Tshabalala and I used to chat it up on twitter. Tshabalala is an illustrator and graphic artist, whose work centres the experiences of black women. The first time I saw her “ABCs of Xhosa Names” .gif series my heart sang. I identified hard with her illustrations of non-beauty things that make up the backbone of poor black women’s beauty arsenal. Things that help us perform beauty as well as women who can afford to spend hundreds of rands on moisturisers. Read this conversation where she weighs in on the negative reactions to the illustrations.

I’m all the way here for FAKA. The project first started out as a performance duo (founded by Fela Gucci and Desire Marea)  but is currently growing into a community that aims to amplify the voices of queer black youth in South Africa. This is particularly important because queer black people are so damned marginalised in this rainbow nation farce of ours. There’s constant threat of violence and danger in living as your authentic self and performing gender, sexuality etc as it applies to you. Mainstream LGBTQ+ spaces, like Pride, are so white in South Africa they snow. This leads to the struggles of black LGBTQ+ people constantly being overlooked. Validation, allyship and safe spaces are all important components, which black queer people do not find in these white spaces so it pleases me that Kasi Pride and FAKA exist.

Tony Gum on the cover of Sibahle, issue one, shot by “Ape Town Sheninigans”

Ruramai Musekiwa is a Zimbabwe-born, Johannesburg-based artist who is making important things. I started seeing #Sibahle all up on my facebook last year and soon first issue of the digital magazine followed. For this year’s Women’s month and in celebration of Women’s day Musekiwa created a “Sibahle” poster series honouring African women ranging from Lupita Nyong’o to Miriam Makeba. Sibahle is repeated throughout her work like both mantra and prayer: We are beautiful, we are enuf, we are everything. Her work centres African identity and experience. I haven’t been able to check the magazine out because issuu doesn’t work on my phone. Please send me a PDF if that’s how it works. I felt some tupperware about the appropriation of Frida Kahlo, tho. 

Zipho Tony Gum shot by Diana Musoni

I’m not sure about you if you don’t know who Zipho “Tony” Gum is. 2015 has been the year of Tony, what with her Coca-Cola campaign popping up everywhere. I’ve been following (and interacting with) Zipho on the internet for as long as I can remember and I’m always proud by proxy when I see her face (essentially work) or name pop up on things and lists. “Tony Gum” is a one-woman show where -- more often than not -- Zipho is conceptualising, styling, art directing, modelling and shooting her visuals all by herself -- or with her little cousin if you’re thinking 2010/2011. This is one of her most recent collaborations. Zipho resonates with me because she centres herself and her image and her face in her work and I think that’s powerful in a world where black girls are pushed aside. Forget protecting us.

Fundiswa Ntoyi is a photographer from the Free State who is currently based in Cape Town. My love for, and familiarity with, her work also goes back to my old tumblr days. Ntoyi’s work is beautiful and every day, you will see her little cousin, older women and strangers -- her portraiture says she truly sees the subjects. She has been a contributor to Nigerian curator Yagazie Emezi’s website since the beginning. She’s also shot with Cape Town style blogger Siki Msuseni (probably one of my favourite ootd images), so if you’re a cape Town-based blogger who PAYS -- reach out to her.

Special mention to Vintage Cru for always being good for my heart.

Who are your favourite artists? Put me on.