Meet 5 artists that are breaking down existing perceptions of the LGBT community
Mikael Owunna is a queer Nigerian-Swedish American photographer and writer. He has created a project called Limit(less) documenting the fashion and style of LGBTQ Africans in North America and Europe. The project uses queer African style to debunk the myth that being LGBTQ is “un-African”.
Limit(less) explores how LGBTQ Africans in North America and Europe navigate their multifaceted identities and find ways to bridge the “gap” between being LGBTQ and African through fashion. By exploring the landscape of queer African style, the project seeks to visually deconstruct this binary which states that one cannot be both LGBTQ and African. To check out more of Mikael’s photography as part of ‘Limit(less), visit: http://limitlessafricans.com/
Muholi is a visual activist dedicated to increasing the visibility of black lesbian, gay, transgender, and intersex people. Through her artistic approach she hopes to document the journey of the African queer community as a record for future generations. She tries to capture the moment without negativity or focusing on the prevalent violence, portraying the LGBTQI community as individuals and as a whole to encourage unity.
Muholi has been employed as a photographer and reporter for Behind the Mask, an online magazine on LGBTI issues in Africa, she’s co-founded the Forum for the Empowerment of Women, a black lesbian organization dedicated to providing a safe space for women to meet and organize as well as researched and documented the stories of hate crimes against the gay community in order to bring forth the realities of “corrective rape”, assault, and HIV/AIDS, to public attention. Her most recent work ‘Hail, The Dark Lioness’, is her first solo exhibition in London, presenting her ongoing self-portrait series ‘Somnyama Ngonyama.’ In more than 60 photographs Muholi uses her body as a canvas to confront the politics of race and representation in the visual archive.
Rainbow Riots is a politically and religiously independent, non-profit organisation advocating for human rights for LGBTQ people globally, using arts and culture as their tools. Rainbow have released an uplifting album featuring LGBTQ artists from countries where it is seriously dangerous to identify as they do: from Jamaica to South Africa, Uganda and Malawi.
The organisation was initially founded by Swedish artist and producer Petter Wallenberg to protest the platform given to those who explicitly support and incite violence against the LGBTQ community worldwide. Their album ‘Rainbow Riots’ includes queer Malawian rapper Ivy B, Ugandan singers and rappers Shivan, Kowa Tigs, Bad Black and Brayo Bryans, as well as Mista Majah P from Jamaica and Umlilo from South Africa.
The Rainbow Riots group is taking in intolerant anger and unleashing positivity back; creating something life-affirming for the people who need it most. From the opening track to the close, the vibrancy of the LGBTQ spirit echoes in the beats and melodies, through pop, electro, afrobeats, dancehall and gospel creations. Check out this encapsulating video giving a taster of all the tracks from their album along with a powerful narrative:
Katlego Kai Kolanyane-Kesupile
(Kol-Kes) is an ARTivist using various art forms for activism and advocacy bridging the gaps created by jargon and societal insecurities
Kol-Kes is the author of …on about the same old things, founder and Creative Director of the Queer Shorts Showcase Festival (Botswana), a member of the Inside/Out Artist Collective and the Mellon Mays Fellows Professional Network (MMFPN).
She wants to create a canon of “queer theater” that will withstand the test of time in the vein of “Romeo and Juliet” and other Shakespeare plays. Katlego is determined to change attitudes in a continent that is particularly hostile to gay and transgender people. Her work ranges from writing, poetry to playwriting and more. To check out any of her work which is changing the narrative of LGBTQ people through art, check out her website here: http://kkolkes.wixsite.com/kkolkes
Young 22-year-old artist Daniel Obasi has created contemporary content around Lagos’s growing fashion and art scene. The ‘illegal project’ was a project to shed the light on the state of queerness and the laws against it in Nigeria. Obasi says “I personally wanted to explore the idea in a way that I felt would focus on the beauty and possibilities of a gender- fluid contemporary Nigerian society.” These images look at the Nigerian LGBTQ community forced to hide their sexual orientation. Adding to the rawness of the images is the inclusion of the stories of four young people living with LGBTQ community in Nigeria. These accounts lend the project authenticity by offering a glimpse into the real lives of some of the country’s most at risk and persecuted individuals.