X is a conference for creative womxn. After a successful inaugural run in Cape Town in 2015, we’re thrilled to be bringing the event to Joburg this year. With an exciting cross-disciplinary all-womxn speaker lineup, the one-day event on Saturday, 13 August will be an intimate and inclusive gathering for like-minded creatives to meet, learn and discuss. Speakers will cover topics that relate to their career journey, work, life as well as thoughts and insights on their experience as a creative womxn in South Africa today.
Milisuthando Bongela started her blog Miss Milli B in February 2010. What began as a way to share her experience at New York Fashion Week with her friends and family soon became a platform for her to explore and discuss the ways that fashion, beauty, art, film and literature mirror where we are as a culture. This year Milli took up the position of arts and culture editor at the Mail & Guardian, and her writing has shifted to focus on issues of race, gender and class in a post-apartheid South Africa. She is the founding member of The Feminist Stokvel, a Jozi womxn’s collective addressing gender disparities through content and community-based activations. Milli’s also in the process of writing and directing her first documentary about hair, black identity and SA’s “pretend rainbow”.
Dinika Govender situates herself at the intersection of culture, social innovation and storytelling. The daughter of a banker and an educator, her work traverses the entrepreneurial, the academic and the tactile. A Fellow with the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation and Ambassador of the Thousand Network, Dinika is a believer in the power of diverse communities to shape and interrogate collective thought and action. Having spent a good portion of her adolescence in Cape Town, she’s now back in her hometown of Jo’burg as a writer, consultant and entrepreneur with a focus on imagining a post-capitalist world. Her first love is books and her best friend is her bicycle.
Since she began taking photographs, Zanele Muholi has made it her life’s work to create a frank yet nuanced documentation of primarily black, LGBTI life in South Africa – in all its complexity. Her ongoing project Faces and Phases began as a reaction to the escalation of homophobic hate crimes and murders in SA. Through photography, she has sought to normalise and conquer fears of queerness in order to make life safer for individuals like her. In her recent collection of self-portraits, Somnyama Ngonyama, Zanele attempts to deal with issues of blackness and black identity by using herself as “the subject of art”.
The daughter of two literary parents, Helen Sullivan moved from Joburg to Cape Town after school to study English, Philosophy and French at UCT. In 2013 she launched Prufrock, the local literary magazine we’ve come to know and love, making excellent South African writing more accessible and acting as a much-needed training ground for young writers – many of whom have never had their work published. Fairly recently, in addition to editing Prufrock, Helen has taken up a position as the Communications and Advocacy Officer at the United Nations Women’s office in Pretoria.
Koleka Putuma is a theatre director, writer, performance poet, part time human, part time supernatural, and all-round force to be reckoned with. She’s made headlines for her work in theatre for children under the age of 7, and one of her best known poems, Water (first delivered at TEDxStellenbosch) won the Pen Student Writing Prize and has been used in lecture halls and conferences around the world. Koleka is interested in the way black female creatives have to work hard to “normalise” their place in the art world, when their position is one often associated with protest. “We can be whimsical too,” she asserts, asking “What or who is the black female creative outside of protest?”.
Katherine-Mary Pichulik is a trained artist who’s applied her eye to another medium, jewellery, since a trip to India prompted her to launch her self-titled accessory brand Pichulik in mid-2012. From the start Kat has been inspired by the intimate relationships womxn have with their jewellery (often inherited from their mothers or grandmothers) and the gutsy and down-right courageous stuff in each of us. Today Pichulik’s statement pieces are worn by womxn around the world and enjoy frequent features in local and international publications. The brand collaborates regularly with local designers on custom pieces and collections. “Essentially I feel the triumphs of Pichulik when I see its direct impact on the lives of those who wear the pieces and those who make them, and how through what we do we can inspire, acknowledge and empower,” says Kat.
Nelisiwe Xaba began her journey in dance almost 20 years ago. In the early 90s she received a scholarship to study at the Johannesburg Dance Foundation as well as the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance in London. Since launching her solo career, she’s been involved in many multi-media projects that have seen her collaborate with visual artists, fashion designers, theatre and television directors, poets and musicians. In her 2013 FNB Art Prize winning work Uncles & Angels, created with Mocke J van Veuren, Nelisiwe explored conceptions of feminine purity and virginity under patriarchy. “I don’t have an interest to put on my status that I’m an activist. I just am,” she says in an interview with M&G.
Thenx is a comedy collective made up of four young womxn, each trained performance artists, who are carving out their own voice in South Africa’s entertainment industry. Consisting of Keitumetse “Kitty” Moepang, MoMo Matsunyane, Boitumelo ‘Tumy’ Motsoatsoe and Zethu ‘Mazurd’ Dlomo, Thenx are passionate about politics and positive change. Their sketch comedy piece AZA-NYA IS FIVE TO (which they performed at this year’s National Arts Festival) explores the state of the nation through satire and parody.
As a keen academic and analyst, self-confessed fashion geek, teacher, spearker and brand consultant Nicola Cooper (of Nicola Cooper & Associates) makes a distinct mark on the local fashion and lifestyle sectors. Her observations are acutely tuned to the present moment, while being intextricably linked to past eras and movements, and her gaze is ever-set on a shifting future. With a clear understanding around the intersection of trends, culture, lifestyle and business, she’s able to unpack and disseminate trends in a way that’s both informed and inspiring.
Mohale Mashigo is the pen name of Carol Mashigo, also known by her stage name Black Porcelain. She’s a radio moderator, award-winning singer and songwriter, and a debut novelist. More simply, though, she’s a storyteller – no matter which name you know her by. Hailed by Zakes Mda as a “bewitching addition to the current South African literary boom”, her first novel The Yearning (published in May this year) is a memorable exploration of the ripple effects of the past, of personal strength and courage, and of the shadowy intersections of traditional and modern worlds.
Lesiba Mothibe is a gender and trans rights activist and identifies as a transwoman.
She was born in Daveyton township, and in 2012 co- founded Uthingo the Rainbow for the LGBTI community in Ekurhuleni region. She is the director of Miss Gay Daveyton beauty pageantry, an organisation that gives visibility to trans(wo)men and femme gays. Lesiba is a former beauty queen herself, being crowned Miss Gay Daveyton in 2003. Lesiba is also featured in Born This Way, a documentary that aired on eNCA, and co-runs The Village Market, which is a platform that offers small businesses an opportunity to exhibit and advertise their art products.
Anthea Moys is a Johannesburg-based artist and teacher influenced by ideas of play and exchange. “My artistic practice is an embodied one. Inspired by a desire to connect with a range of different people in different places, I adopt playful strategies of exchange where we create or stage site-specific and group-specific participatory performances.” For her, there’s a special kind of magic that happens when strangers get together and write their own rules of engagement. In the 2014 participatory performance piece The Artist Is Arm Wrestling, Anthea challenged fellow artists, security guards, curators, cleaners, volunteers, organisers and members of the general public to a test of strength. This inclusive approach to the arts also finds expression in ventures like the first Hey Hillbrow! Let’s Dlala! festival which Anthea was on the organising committee for this year.
MC: Laura Windvogel
The incomparable Laura Windvogel, or Lady Skollie as she’s known in the art world, was the MC for our creative womxn conference last year and did such a fantastic job we’ve asked her back. Revolving around themes of gender roles and relationships, her confrontational art is presented with complete and often comedic candour because she believes that “honesty invites honesty” and “humour makes things more bearable”.
Visit the event page on Facebook for more info.
Update: Tickets are sold out.