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Fashion Film

Performance: Belinda Qaqamba Ka-Fassie & Lee-Ann Olwage

by Belinda Qaqamba Ka-Fassie & Lee-Ann Olwage on 22 July 2022

Drag artist and activist Belinda Qaqamba Ka-Fassie worked with image-maker Lee-Ann Olwage to make a performance film queering the narrative of hegemonic masculinity in the Xhosa culture, challenging the dominant construction of Xhosa masculinities, namely Ulwalukho - the right of passage from boyhood to manhood.

Drag artist and activist Belinda Qaqamba Ka-Fassie worked with image-maker Lee-Ann Olwage to make a performance film queering the narrative of hegemonic masculinity in the Xhosa culture, challenging the dominant construction of Xhosa masculinities, namely Ulwalukho - the right of passage from boyhood to manhood.

  • How would you describe what you do?

Belinda Qaqamba Ka-Fassie: A drag artist and queer activist.

Lee-Ann Olwage: Visual storyteller.

  • What's your background?

BQKF: I was born in the heart of the West Coast in a small town called Elands Bay. I am greatly influenced by my Biko reading grandmother who taught me the importance of loving my skin and being comfortable with the beauty I ooze.

LAO: Photography and film.

  • What inspires you?

BQKF: I am inspired by the beauty of my people, my wish is to indigenise drag and present an intentional African queer imagination.

LAO: Africa’s contemporary visual culture.

  • What is the ambition behind your practice?

BQKF: I am inspired by African Culture and its spiritual nuances.

LAO: I am interested in using the medium of photography as a mode of co-creation and celebration. With long-term projects, I aim to create a space where people I collaborate with can play an active part in the creation of images they feel tells their stories in a way that is affirming and celebratory.

  • What did you hope to convey with your Bodies Of Knowledge film?

BQKF: My film queers the narrative of hegemonic masculinity in the Xhosa culture. The queering is one that challenges normalised gender binaries. As a gender queer individual, the aim of my film is to present an alternative imagination of the body versus and/or with culture.

LAO: The project aims to challenge the dominant construction of Xhosa masculinities, namely Ulwalukho- the right of passage from boyhood to manhood in the Xhosa Culture. Drag artist and activist, Belinda Qaqamba Ka-Fassie, is a proud Xhosa gender-queer body, who creatively weaves together gender identity with their cultural identity. They do this through costuming, performance, and the art of drag.

As a queer-identifying body, who has gone through the isiXhosa initiation process, Belinda reclaims their agency in how they construct their own gender identity. They also challenge dominant cultural masculinities through posing as an individual (queer) and as part of the culture (Xhosa).

This project encourages deeper thought about the self and the erasure of queer identities in the Xhosa culture. By embracing femininity and masculinity at the same time, Belinda uses the power of queerness within Africa to disrupt and dismantle the normativity in African cultural practices.

Direction and Photography:
Photographic Direction:
Georgia Court
Styling:
Thobey Cooper
Production:
Gavin McJannet

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