HALALA
07/11/2017 14:35 SAST | Updated 07/11/2017 14:35 SAST

Queer South African Artists Bring NYC Festival To A Halt

Zanele Muholi has taken a supercrew along to this year's Performa Festival.

Zanele Muholi/ Instagram

The seventh edition of the Performa Biennial, currently happening at locations throughout New York City, has been taken over by a collective of queer South African performance artists who are bringing the country's LGBTQ+ issues to the fore.

This year the festival commissioned a special focus feature called The South African Pavilion Without Walls, featuring big-name artists like William Kentridge, Kemang Wa Lehulere, Nicholas Hlobo and Zanele Muholi (who ArtReview magazine named the most powerful female artist in Africa in their annual Power 100 list).

South Africa has been a focus for Performa since the first Biennial in 2005 and, while the rest of the South Africans have been a huge favourite of the festival this year, Muholi's crew -- a collective of the country's prominent queer artists and activists -- have received widespread praise for their brave attitude to the festival.

Muholi travelled to NYC with an entourage of nearly 20, each of whom addresses issues facing queer people on the continent.The crew included drag star Odidiva, poet Andile Dlamini, performer Nonku Phiri, theatre performer Thokozani Ndaba, and Mally Simelane, mother of slain soccer player Eudy Simelane, among others.

Odidiva and a host of others performed at the historic Stonewall Inn -- a landmark base for the struggle toward the rights of queer people.

Muholi will show three of her series at the event. These include: Brave Beauties, a photo-essay featuring gender-nonconforming pageant winners and transgender woman; Somnyama Ngonyama (Hail, The Dark Lioness), the body of work confronting the politics of race and pigment in the photographic archive though self-portraiture, and; Faces and Phases, the portrait series looking at black South African lesbian and transgender individuals.

For all the details check out the performa website.