Between 10 and 5 The South African creative showcase 2015-09-02T14:37:25Z http://10and5.com/feed/atom/ WordPress Jessica Hunkin <![CDATA[Discover the Artist: Tony Gum]]> http://10and5.com/?p=121795 2015-09-02T12:33:19Z 2015-09-02T12:33:19Z Meet Tony Gum, a 20 year old artist whose self-portraiture presents an ironic and playful take on the universal preoccupation with identity politics.

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Dubbed the coolest kid in Cape Town by Vogue, 20 year old self-portraitist Tony Gum will have her first solo presentation at Christopher Moller Gallery at the FNB JoburgArtFair this year. The lively young artist fuses specific brands like Coca-Cola with an array of projected identities that range from the matriarch in traditional Xhosa costume to the West End Playboy Bunny. In doing so, she presents an ironic and playful take on the universal preoccupation with identity politics.

 

Working both behind the scenes and front-and-centre, Tony flits between the roles of art director, model, stylist and photographer when creating her conceptual imagery. In her bio on the ArtFair site she’s described as the new ‘plastiglomerate’ –an artist able to splice the moral with the synthetic as well as high art and trash to capture the radio-active buzz of this particular moment in art.

 

“There actually is no point where I decided that I wanted to pursue art, it just came at me as a surprise,” says Tony, who shares her journey and inspirations in a video portrait by Josh Hayman that gives us a candid glimpse into her creative process.

 

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Jessica Hunkin <![CDATA[Film and Performance Spotlighted in the 2015 FNB JoburgArtFair Special Projects]]> http://10and5.com/?p=121772 2015-09-01T12:05:17Z 2015-09-01T12:00:43Z This year the FNB JoburgArtFair is focussed on dynamic new forms of experimental film and live performance. These are the Special Projects to look out for.

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Marco Godoy 'Reclamar el Eco' (Discovery Award finalist)

‘Reclamar el Eco’ by Marco Godoy

 

This year the FNB JoburgArtFair is focussed on dynamic new forms of experimental film and live performance. At the Fair, a central theatre space will host a programme of film screenings, performances and talks to highlight the increasing significance of these multidisciplinary forms in contemporary African art. Most of the Special Projects for the 2015 Fair uphold this same focus, from Ben Patterson’s performance ‘Paper Piece’ to the premiering of the films created by Johannesburg Pavilion artists during the Venice Biennale. The only project that does sway from the Fair’s main focus is undoubtedly a welcome one: an art bar designed by Cameron Platter. Read on for an overview of the Special Projects to look out for this year.

 

Performance art pioneer Ben Patterson’s ‘Paper Piece’

 

Think of Number 6 by Ben Patterson

Think of Number 6 by Ben Patterson

 

Since its inception in 2008, German cultural organisation the Goethe-Institut has been involved with the FNB JoburgArtFair, bringing international voices and projects to the programme. This year the Goethe-Institut is supporting the Fair’s focus on film and performance art with two projects: the showing of work from the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen in a dedicated booth, and Ben Patterson’s performance work ‘Paper Piece’. Patterson, an American artist born in 1934, says that his intentions “have not been to produce art…but have instead contrived to excite that faculty or faculties responsible for integrating experience.” He will perform ‘Paper Piece’ at the FNB JoburgArtFair in the context of the exhibition ‘Think of Number 6’ organised by John Peffer and Bettina Malcomess to “share alternatives to the narrowly defined identity-based art too often encouraged by the art market, especially for women artists, artists of colour, or artists from Africa”.

 

Patterson was an early pioneer of performance art and one of the founding members of Fluxus; the international artists’ network that challenged the boundaries of visual art, music, and theatre via an anti-commercial approach to creative practice in the 60s. Conceived around this time and premiered at the first Fluxus Festival in Wiesbaden, Germany, ‘Paper Piece’ is a score for five performers who twist, tear, shuffle, wave and otherwise manipulate a pile of paper to produce various sonic and visual effects.

 

A selection from the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen

 

Freedom and Independe by Bjørn Melhus (Oberhausen)

Freedom and Independe by Bjørn Melhus

 

Still the prime source of innovation for the art of film, short film is the experimental field in which future cinematic vocabularies first crystallise. At the 2015 FNB JoburgArtFair, the Goethe-Institut has invited the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen to present a selection of international art films. Founded in 1954, the Festival is the oldest of its kind and has become one of the largest and most important platforms for short films worldwide. Oberhausen has been a catalyst and a showcase for contemporary developments, a forum for (often heated) discussions and a discoverer of new trends and talent. The programme to be screened at this year’s Fair was curated by Hilke Doering, who has been with Oberhausen since 1995, and includes short films that investigate current political issues shared across local and international contexts.

 

The winner and finalists of LOOP Barcelona’s 2015 Discovery Award

 

Seeds by Shahar Marcus (LOOP Barcelona)

Seeds by Shahar Marcus

 

LOOP is an independent platform dedicated to the fostering of video art, artists’ films and moving image practices. Founded in 2003, the pioneering and experimental space is open to innovative attitudes and approaches that offer specialised audiences a curated selection of video-related content from challenging perspectives. Following a founding principle of casting light on the current trends in video art and presenting these to the general public, each year LOOP hosts LOOP Barcelona, a highlight for the international video art community. Through its three sections – Fair, Festival and Studies – it premieres new productions, features exhibitions, supports specific projects and screenings, and displays a large programme of talks dealing with current issues and opinions pertaining to video art.

 

The Discovery Award, an art video/film competition that aims to support and recognise new work by international artists, is an initiative by LOOP Barcelona. The competition solicits entries through a free open call to the artistic community. To be presented at this year’s FNB JoburgArtFair is the winning film, ‘Seeds’ by Shahar Marcus, as well as 10 finalists of the 2015 Discovery Award.

 

Film documentation from the Johannesburg Pavilion in Venice

 

You Can’t Sell Your Heart by Roelof Petrus van Wyk (Johannesburg Pavilion)

You Can’t Sell Your Heart by Roelof Petrus van Wyk

 

The Johannesburg Pavilion consists of a group of film and performance artists investigating the possibilities and implications of presenting and making work by creating a site of production on the edges of a global art event like the Venice Biennale. It was created in 2015 by the 133 Arts Foundation in partnership with the FNB JoburgArtFair with the view of a “virtual institution” that operates in a space between its domestic context and foreign lands. The platform is an ongoing one that exists for the international exposure of African artists who are forging fresh and alternate spaces through their work.

 

At the Venice Biennale this year, Johannesburg Pavilion artists developed new work in-situ and performed these narratives by placing their performing bodies directly in the ebb-and-flow of the city. Feeding off its resistance and conflict, they used Venice not only as a place of visual consumption but also as a temporal and productive place of residence. The resulting film documentation will be shown for the first time during the 2015 FNB JoburgArtFair, after which it will return to Venice for closure. The film works include Capital, Conflict and Death in Venice; A performative film by Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi and Arya Lalloo together with Chris Wessels; Sea of Ash, a film by Michael MacGarry and Marco Polo, a film installation by Anthea Moys.

 

Absolut Vodka presents ‘The Arts & Crafts – Baboink Art Bar’ by Cameron Platter

 

Wallpaper by Cameron Platter

Wallpaper by Cameron Platter

 

Following a long tradition of creative commissions and support of the visual arts, Absolut Vodka has selected artist Cameron Platter to deliver its first large-scale bar installation in South Africa. It is on the occasion of the 2015 FNB JoburgArtFair that Absolut Vodka presents Platter’s ‘The Arts & Crafts – Baboink Art Bar’. The installation investigates consumption, excess and waste within a fragmented South African identity, and it fills the ordinary with incendiary new meaning. As the ultimate consumer combo, it includes a vodka bar, a vitrine housing a collection of Platter’s objects, soft sculptures to lounge on, neon signs, photographic works and a specially commissioned soundtrack.

 

 

Visit the Special Projects at the FNB JoburgArtFair from 11 – 13 September at the Sandton Convention Centre.

 

Opening Times:

 

Friday 11 September from 11am – 8pm
Saturday 12 September from 10am – 6pm
Sunday 13 September from 10am – 5pm

 

Tickets:

 

R500 for Thursday night’s Opening Preview Party
R100 on Friday
R130 on Saturday / Sunday
R260 for a Weekend Pass

 

Buy tickets online or at the door.

 

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Gabriella Pinto <![CDATA[Live Illustrated Notes from Our Creative Women Conference]]> http://10and5.com/?p=121744 2015-09-01T11:02:33Z 2015-09-01T10:58:56Z If you missed the event on Saturday, take a look at these awesome notes from our Creative Women Conference by illustrated by Alice Edy.

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Alice Edy's Creative Women Conference Notes

 

On Saturday, 29 August we held our first ever Creative Women Conference where women who are doing amazing work in their fields shared their stories and insights with us. The Inner City Ideas Cartel with it’s intimate conference room and panoramic rooftop bar provided the opportunity for attendees and speakers to mingle and chat about ideas shared and wisdom gained. Anja Venter, Dope Saint Jude, Penny Siopis, Filippa Domingues, Didintle Ntsie, Talia Sanhewe, Hannerie Visser, Sethembile Msezane, Nkuli Mlangeni and Lauren Beukes formed our fantastic line-up for the day and inspired many with their food for thought.

 

If you missed out this year, you can play catch up thanks to Alice Edy‘s extraordinary illustration skills. From 9am to 5pm she listened attentively and captured in beautiful graphic recordings the highlights from each speaker. Follow her work on Twitter or Instagram.

 

For more learnings from the conference, check the tag #10and5CreativeWomen to see our live tweets. If you did attend the event please share your feedback with us here.

 

Creative Women's Conference

Alice Edy's Creative Women Conference Notes

Alice Edy's Creative Women Conference Notes

Alice Edy's Creative Women Conference Notes

Creative Women's Conference

 

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Between 10and5 <![CDATA[It’s Not About Us | The Sartists in a Short Film for adidas Originals Superstar]]> http://10and5.com/?p=121722 2015-09-01T10:46:03Z 2015-09-01T09:54:24Z In a powerful documentary style short film, The Sartists share their aim to communicate authentic and untold local stories through the mediums of fashion and photography.

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The Sartists‘ collaboration with adidas Originals for one of the brand’s most iconic shoes, the Superstar, was launched at AREA3 in Braamfontein in August. Rather than looking to outside sources, Wanda Lephoto, Kabelo Kungwane and Xzavier Zulu drew inspiration from things that are unmistakeably South African: 90s Kwaito artists and the aesthetic of barbershop paintings in the townships or inner-city Jozi. Similar paintings appear on the backs of their customised vintage pieces, which are showcased in a striking lookbook shot by the trio’s go-to photographer Andile Buka.

 

In a powerful documentary style short film titled ‘It’s Not About Us’, The Sartists share their aim to recreate and communicate authentic and untold local stories through the mediums of fashion and photography. “Pantsula is an expression of cultural roots for many South Africans – from fashion, to music and dance. We wanted to celebrate it as a strong story of our country’s style heritage. We took that pantsula aesthetic and added them to deconstructed adidas garments to pay tribute to our culture. The collaboration was a natural fit for us. It represents our approach as creatives – we’ve been adidas fans since we were kids and we love the rich heritage it has,” explains Kabelo.

 

With The Sartits’ personal creative work spaces, the streets of Johannesburg and their community hangouts as the backdrop, the intimate film reveals their motivations, fears and dreams. Yet, Xzavier emphasises that “This film isn’t about us. It’s about the people who will be inspired by it. People who are going to take away from it that ‘this is possible’, even for them. It tells a collective story – of the aspirations of our youth, of young creatives in South Africa finding their true voice and not surrendering their talent to conform.” Wanda echoes these sentiments, saying, “We’ve always been inspired by our environment and we saw it as a way of giving back – an opportunity to somehow pay creativity forward while celebrating our stories of heritage and culture. adidas Originals is for individuals whose contribution sets them apart, and we wanted to do something that is going to matter to the people who see it.”

 

Credits:

Agency: ANDPEOPLE

Videographer: Nelis Botha

 

Follow Wanda, Kabelo and Xzavier on Instagram.

 

The Sartists x adidas Originals film (2)

 

See The Sartists’ lookbook for adidas Originals Superstar and read our interview with Wanda, Kabelo and Xzavier about responding to and creating culture.

 

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Layla Leiman <![CDATA[Creative Women | Ashleigh McLean on the Sensibilities of a Curatorial Eye]]> http://10and5.com/?p=121673 2015-09-01T20:17:43Z 2015-08-31T11:00:56Z Whatiftheworld curator Ashleigh McLean believes in honing one's curatorial eye by asking questions, so as exhibitions can contribute to the bigger narrative by offering new insights.

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Ashleigh McLean has been curating and organising exhibitions at Whatiftheworld since the gallery’s beginning, when the space operated as an experimental bridge between recently graduated artists and young collectors. Today the gallery represents a stable of established contemporary artists whose work characteristically employs humour and tactile experimentation to engage with and critique current socio-political affairs. Over the course of 8 years, Ashleigh has worked closely with artist to curate shows that are carefully considered both aesthetically and conceptually. What drives Ashleigh is the hope and belief that the questions being asked through visual forms are contributing to the bigger narrative and offering insights and understandings.

 

 

 

Please tell us how you first started curating art shows and started working with Whatiftheworld?

 

I began working with Whatiftheworld, after graduating from the Michaelis School of fine art, through the introduction of a mutual acquaintance – an artist that had just done a small show there. Although I majored in print-making at Michaelis my background was in street art and more vernacular forms. This hooked in serendipitously to the grass roots and entrepreneurial space of the gallery at the time, which was essentially a small room that was a levelling ground and an experimental space that filled a bit of the void between the university and independent artist and the gallery structure of the time. I met Justin Rhodes and Cameron Munroe at the very beginning of their gallery endeavour and my training as an artist as well as my experience as a small-scale entrepreneur were important in our collaboration as well as the fact that we became friends with shared interests. My first experience as a curator came out of the DIY approach and also the desire to link my peers to a space that could show their work professionally as well as link them to an as yet untapped market for young collectors.

 

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Two Works by Julia Rosa Clarke

 

What are the parallels for you between making art and curating exhibitions?

 

In both making artwork or curating a show you identify an interest or a framework of ideas you want to investigate, realise it materially and work through the conceptual problems that arise when you are refining an idea. In terms of identifying with the processes involved in creating art I think it is invaluable to have an idea of the technique and material required to produce certain pieces and a sense of the struggle and commitment that is involved in making art.

 

Also recognising that meaning is generated on multiple levels – in the studio in the act of making, and in the gallery where the work settles into a different form. It helps to have an understanding of both these spaces.

 

 

In what ways does curating challenge, and satisfy, you creatively?

 

I find managing my relationships with the artists the most challenging aspect of curating – it’s a very sensitive and intuitive process. You are a facilitator between the work and artist and the gallery and the public – it’s a very nuanced interaction – and that the work is positioned correctly and treated with respect is of utmost importance. That being said the role of the curator is also to critique and edit – which makes it all the more important that the relationship between the artist and curator is one of discussion and mutual respect.

 

Creatively I am most fulfilled by being able to offer solutions or alternatives that might not have originally been considered in the making or display of work. The curator should be able to telescope out from some of the confines of the studio and process and offer some advice in terms of refining the message of a show, use of particular media or even the best way to represent the work in literature or print format. Finding the best and most effective way to communicate what is at the heart of the exhibition is what gratifies me most. I also enjoy the role of producer. I am fortunate to have had previous experience in film, performing arts, fabrication and music. These creative skills inform my suggestions in how a project might be most successfully realised.

 

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From The Line of Beauty by Morne Visagie

 

In your view, what characterises a successful exhibition?

 

For me a successful exhibition is characterised by its ability to communicate the artist’s point of view both aesthetically and conceptually. Obviously there are formal aspects which are very important, professional presentation (sensitivity to lighting for example), the pace or rhythm of the show in its layout and design. Also central to a successful show is publishing – whether in print or online – press coverage and feedback in the form of reviews or interviews. Public attendance, efficiently managing the budget for a show and generating income through sales for the artist and the gallery are also key.

 

 

Can you tell us a little about your journey as a curator and how you’ve refined your eye? Is it correct to talk about a curators’ ‘eye’? What skills does it take to do what you do?

 

What I have learnt (and am still learning) is to ask the tough questions even if it can sometimes be challenging for myself or the artist. We have to look at the integrity of the artwork. What is it saying? How does the material that it is made of /not made of add to its message? Where is it positioned now in cultural /social terms? What feeling and thoughts does this object provoke? And what statement does it make? Is this relevant to the context of the exhibition? I think refining your eye is a series of questions but it is also a very personal sensibility.

 

 

What have been some of the standout shows for you personally and why?

 

Well, that’s tough because each show is so unique with a specific set of concerns – some may be critical successes but commercial failures and vice versa. I think the standout shows are the ones that introduce something new – so for example a show where we encouraged the artist to do something ambitious for them in terms of scale or using a multidisciplinary approach. The standout shows are the ones where the artist, hopefully with gallery input, produces an exhibition that is an advance or refinement of their practice.

 

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The Line of Beauty installation view by Morne Visagie

 

What do you look for in artists to sign with the gallery?

 

Well they need to have a uniqueness – either in technique and the material they use or the themes they engage with and how it comes together. Like with most things the inspiration is only the first part of the journey. The artist needs to be seriously committed to what they are doing as the gallery will also be investing a lot in terms of time, money etc. So professional commitment is really important.

 

Transparency is vital and clear communication is absolutely essential. To work as a proper team – the gallery and the artist need to be very clear as to what the expectations and goals are. Being professional in terms of keeping to deadlines and being self-motivated are also important.

 

 

As a curator, how do your own preferences and tastes influence what you do?

 

I think that my attraction to tactile work has influenced me in choosing the artists we work with. I’m interested in work that is not didactic – I’m interested in surprises.

 

 

How do you find a personal balance between the creative and the more business aspects of your role?

 

It’s invaluable to be able to work closely with my co-director Justin Rhodes. We balance each    other out when it comes to presenting shows that are sensitive to the artist’s vision and the positioning in the market place.

 

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What have been your experiences negotiating and establishing your niche in the predominantly white male dominated local art industry?

 

Ironically one of the reasons I chose to work in the arts was that I thought it would be a more liberal environment where one would not have to fight too hard against sexist paradigms. I have encountered sexisim from other gallerists, clients and even artists (my pet hate is being called a gallerina!) I think with any industry you need to be vocal in correcting people when they make incorrect assumptions – but to be professional about it.

 

It is hard not to take these things personally – and I have in the past (and it’s something that needs constant vigilance). It’s not good enough to work hard and think that people will recognise your work. Women in the arts, as with any sector in business, need to be active in claiming space whether it’s corporate, cultural or whatever.

 

 

Who inspires you and why?

 

I am inspired by the idea that what we are doing is part of a bigger history – that the questions asked through visual forms offer another insight and way of problem solving. That the clues we leave are part of a bigger lexicon of language of understanding (that sometimes critiques) but often exists in parallel to the industrial, capitalist, military understanding if the world. And hopefully humanity can be enriched by this knowledge. The world would be a very boring place without art.

 

www.whatiftheworld.com

 

All photos of Ashleigh by Anke Loots.

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Jessica Hunkin <![CDATA[Oh Wow! – Who Run The World?]]> http://10and5.com/?p=121620 2015-08-28T15:42:06Z 2015-08-28T15:42:06Z In this Oh Wow! we're paying homage to fantastic ladies ahead of our very first Creative Women conference on 29 August.

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In this Oh Wow! we’re paying homage to fantastic ladies ahead of our very first Creative Women conference tomorrow. We’ve got cat ladies  illustrated with Sharpies, a trio of independent women, a soulful music mix and a fascinating web series.

 

ONE – Sharpie illustrations by Simone le Roux for this year’s Loerie winners. Enter our #idrawwithsharpies competition via Instagram by Monday, 31 August.

 

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TWO – The Fantastic Femmes edition of Jungle Jim.

Power Grrls, Wonder Women and Fantastic Femmes! Discover the notorious, true-life exploits of apartheid-era stripper-heroine, Glenda Kemp! Join young Aisha as she orchestrates her Aunt Beydan’s miraculous recovery and escape from Kenya! And follow Archer-Warrior, Haret, as she finds herself on a doomed mission in the darkening Badlands…

 

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JJ Issue 25 Web

 

THREE – Iman Abdulmajid, Naomi Campbell and Rihanna illustrated by Azola Dyonta.

 

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FOURElla G‘s soulful mix for The Fuss Sound Gallery. Read an interview with her here.

 

 

FIVE – A few of the women featured in David Tshabalala’s ‘Run The World’ project, see more on his Instagram.

 

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SIX – Luvuyo Nyawose and Palesa Kgasane photographed by Gabriella Achadinha.

 

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SEVEN – Episode 3 of ‘Women on Sex‘, a fresh web series that interviews celebrities, doctors, pastors and everyday women who challenge perceptions and norms surrounding sex. Look out for a more in-depth piece on 10and5 soon.

 

 

EIGHT – ‘Selekana and the River God’ by Thandiwe Tshabalala.

 

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NINELady Skollie for The Lake magazine. She’s MC-ing at our #10and5CreativeWomen conference tomorrow – follow us on Instagram and Twitter for updates throughout the day.

 

The Lake x Lady Skollie

 

 

More Oh Wow!

 

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Gabriella Pinto <![CDATA[An Inspiring Film By Ginkgo About A Dream-Big Group Of Actors From Mfuleni]]> http://10and5.com/?p=121588 2015-08-28T11:59:06Z 2015-08-28T11:57:30Z An inspirational short film tells the story of a dream big group of young theatre makers from Mfuleni.

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Click here to view the embedded video.

 

Ginkgo agency’s newest film tells the story of an inspirational group of young theatre makers from Mfuleni, who have achieved their dream and secured a run for their play, Egoli, at the Baxter Theatre. Despite myriad challenges, they banded together to rehearse their play in a church hall, before taking part in the Zabalaza Theatre Festival. This performance won the group a host of awards, including Best Musical Director, Most Outsanding Artist of the Festival and the Short Season Award.

 

“In the township of Mfuleni, Cape Town, a disadvantaged youth is taking to the stage. Braced against patriarchal beliefs and the brutal odds of making it as performers outside of the ‘arts system’ this troupe employs passion, talent and conviction to create something out of nothing. And now they have made it to the big time. Their show Egoli opens at the Baxter Theatre this August. It’s a long way from Mfuleni”, says Anthony from Gingko.

 

Catch their last two shows at The Baxter this weekend.

 

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Layla Leiman <![CDATA[Creative Women | Panashe Chigumadzi On The Importance Of Love For Any Kind Of Radical And Transformative Politics]]> http://10and5.com/?p=121535 2015-08-28T20:47:54Z 2015-08-28T09:52:29Z Panashe Chigumadzi is the founder and editor of womanist platform Vanguard Magazine, an online publication in South Africa speaking to the intersectionality of queer politics, Black Consciousness and pan-Africanism.

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Panashe Chigumadzi is the founder and editor of womanist platform Vanguard Magazine, an online publication for young black women in South Africa speaking to the intersectionality of queer politics, Black Consciousness and pan-Africanism. The magazine is a response to white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, endeavouring to foster and build new queer black feminist futures. The notion of plurality is central to the editorial policy of the publication, as Panashe believes that it is only through creating a space for multiple, varied and local stories that healing can begin to take place. Similarly, she sees Vanguard as a safe space that might engage with harsh truths, but always from a place of love.

 

What first prompted you to think of starting Vanguard?

 

Vanguard started because I wasn’t seeing myself represented in local media – not only on the covers, but on the mastheads and most importantly in the ownership structures. I wanted to create a space that spoke to me as a black woman, in all the fullness of my life, without any anthropology (think: ‘modern sangoma’ stories), the false dichotomies (think: ‘weaves vs afroes’) and most importantly where young black women would not need to italicise, explain or censor themselves.

 

What happened next?

 

I went back and forth with the idea, but what perhaps finally pushed me was picking up a copy of the November 2013 edition of FASHIZBLACK featuring Kelly Rowland at Exclusive Books. I had been following the digital edition of FASHIZBLACK, a Paris-based magazine established by young Africans, since the Solange Knowles issue and this was the second print edition that I had bought. Perhaps a year earlier I had read on their site that the magazine was planning to go in to print once it got the funding, but in the meantime would continue with the digital edition and now here I was, all the way in South Africa, with a hardcopy of the print edition of a magazine established by young Africans in France. That gave me the push as a young writer with very little capital to simply start on my publishing idea: if I could just start online one day I would also be able to have my print edition bought worldwide like FASHIZBLACK had done. I remember going home and very excitedly telling my Ever-Suffering about it, holding the pages up to him and saying “If they could do it, what’s stopping me from starting my own thing?”

 

Literally the next week I was requesting quotes from web designers and working on the beginnings of ‘Generation’ magazine, which (thanks to the intervention of loving friends and one of our early Culture editors Nombuso Nkambule, who did a survey at a carwash on the name – big NOs! Reminded some of the soapie – and eventually suggested the new one) eventually became Vanguard Magazine, our digital baby.

 

Now, just over a year old, we are relaunching the site next month with a very different vision from when it was started. We, that is my partner Thato Magano and myself, still have the determination to have a print edition and talk about what form it will take very often.

 

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Have you always been interested in media, or was this something that developed? Please tell us a little about the journey you’re on.

 

I have always been interested in writing and I wanted to pursue it as a career. I have also thought of studying things like Anthropology and History. My mother and father, a doctor and an accountant respectively, were not having any of that. So I did the safe thing which was to study accounting and was en route to becoming a chartered accountant. In the final year of my undergraduate degree I decided that I was tired of debits and credits and through a series of cold calls and lucky opportunities I was able to land a job in business media. Media, and in particular, mass media was a way for me to begin to communicate the ideas that I had found so important in reading African literature about identity and black consciousness to a wider audience. Of course, my ideas have evolved over time and I am no longer exclusively interested in Black Consciousness alone, I have come to learn about intersectional feminism and African feminisms and would articulate the ideas differently. Beyond that, I am no longer interested in ‘identity issues’ I am interested in how we can change the socio-economic order and that is reflected in why I am interested in who owns platforms and who gets to participate.

 

During a Ted-x talk you spoke about the importance of creating and shaping local, nuanced and relevant stories. Reflecting back on Vanguard thus far, how has this sentiment influenced and informed what you’ve done with this platform?

 

It’s hugely important in so many ways. For example, as black feminists in South Africa we draw a lot on the amazing work done by African American feminists on developing and defining intersectional feminism in thought and action. That is why the likes of bell hooks, Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde, Assata Shakur, Kimberle Crenshaw and a lot of new and younger feminists such as Feminista Jones and Laverne Cox are inevitably referenced. However the question that is asked and raised by important young South African feminists such as Wanelisa Xaba is around the relevance of their experience to us.

 

Xaba says: “They are relevant to us African feminists especially in a South African context where we live under white supremacy where the Gatekeepers are an anti-Black government. They understand what it means to fight on all fronts. I am not saying that Audre Lorde is not useful, in fact my whole thing is that her and Angela Davis had/have a very broad sense of the term Black and to continuously make connections with the Global South. Even Assata Shakur in Cuba. But I become very critical of Alice Walker and her positionality when she delivers a talk in South Africa and criticises our president’s polygamous marriage. It’s like, you don’t have the understanding and cultural knowledges to understand the nuances of that. You can’t talk about that lady, sorry. Again, I think that even though I may not claim to know what it is to be an AA, however I educate myself quite regularly on their struggles and terms and tools. But I wonder if I would be able to have a conversation with Black feminists in the US about the cultural complexities of female circumcision and the fact that I know some feminists who want their husbands to pay lobola.”

 

Overall, the most important thing for us to remember is that blackness is not homogenous even within South Africa and even for intersectional feminists. We first of all recognise that blackness is not only defined by skin – it is also defined by aspects such as gender, class, sexuality, able-bodiedness, body shape, nationality and more.

 

As the editor of a platform that aims to give voice to as many black experiences as possible, I have to be aware of the many privileges and blind spots that I have as a black heterosexual, able-bodied, middleclass, cis-gender woman. I have to be committed to listening first and foremost and secondly actively creating the space that encourages and develops voices that are marginalised.

 

As editor, what does your role involve and where are you steering the publication?

 

A large part of my role is listening, asking questions and encouraging. I have to listen to what conversations people are having and what is on their minds. I have to ask hard questions of our contributors and of ourselves. I have to do a lot of encouraging with my contributors because there is always a concerted effort to silence and delegitimise the voices of young black people (additionally so for those who are also queer, female, poor, disabled and other social identities that are not the accepted norm) and let them know that their voices are valid.

 

Beyond that, a huge part of Vanguard is my partner Thato Magano. We spend hours debating – the topics, the politics of our picture and headline choices, our editorial plans, the way our site lives and more. A large part of my time is spent being challenged by him. I think I do the same for him.

 

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Can you tell us a little about the people who contribute to Vanguard and those who read it?

 

The people who contribute to Vanguard are young black South Africans who want to break down white supremacist capitalist patriarchy and want to build new queer black feminist futures. We are not perfect, they are not perfect, but we are interested in learning and building ourselves. So these are people who are interested in what their intersectional feminist politics means on a Monday morning. In other words, these are people who, beyond wanting to write, want to live their politics whether they relate to the big news items of the day, relationships, music choice, social media, whatever. Vanguard contributors are visionaries who are interested in everyday consciousness. I would say the same for our readers.

 

What is the tone of the publication and what does this say about Vanguard?

 

There’s a popular twitter/facebook line that goes “Your fave is problematic”, meaning that the people who we idolise and paint as having perfect politics are likely to be found to be wanting somewhere. I would adjust that and say we are all problematic. We all have some form of dodgy politics and perspectives that we have learnt and have not seen anything wrong with, it’s just that we might not be famous enough for a hashtag to be started to call us out.

 

So, in recognising this, we are interested in this being a platform for unlearning. We recognise that we ourselves are conditioned to the white default. We are conditioned to the able-bodied default, to the heteronormative default, to the patriarchal default. And, and, and. There is a lot that we have to unlearn in order to learn new ways of being. That is why we really discourage our writers from being preachy and always ask that they insert themselves in whatever topic they write about it because that process of being honest and critical about where you stand in relation to a certain politics for both the writer and the reader of the articles. I hope I will never see the day when we have #panashebelike or #vanguardlogic trending, but I think it’s important that we will make mistakes. The most important is having a space where we can learn from each other in a safe space.

 

Very importantly, in a world that is anti-black, anti-women, anti-queer, anti-poor, anti-…. it is important that we come from a place of love. There may be harsh truths that will be written, but they are always done in love. There is a fine line between critique and criticism that we have to tread. Love is an important principle for any kind of radical and transformative politics.

 

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Why is the content you publish important?

 

It’s important because there is a tide of change happening in South Africa right now. Black South African youth are awake and defining a new decolonised future for themselves and the country. We are a platform that aims to give expression to that as we debate and dissect the internal contradictions and ways in which we are complicit in maintaining the status quo.

 

What will never be published on Vanguard?

 

Anything that is anti-black, anti-queer, anti-womyn, anti-trans, anti-, anti-poor… the list goes on. Essentially anything that is anti-black and beyond that, because we are intersectional feminists, we will not publish anything that does not recognise that blackness is not defined by the black heterosexual male. It’s important that we don’t pick and choose between consciousness. That means that we don’t want your feminism if you are homophobic. We don’t want your queer politics if you fat-shame. We don’t want your Black Consciousness if you are misogynistic.

 

Beyond that there are some specifics. In particular, it is important that is not ahistorical and de-contextualised. We are not interested in ‘Capitalist Nigger-esque’ writing that victim blames oppressed people and ignores historic socio-economic conditions. For example, we will not publish any “weaves vs afroes” pieces that shame weave-wearers but do not speak of school codes of conduct that ban “exotic hair such as afroes” or workplace discrimination of natural hair. Likewise, we will not publish pieces on absent black fathers without any reference to the migrant labour system, etc.

 

Please can you share your thoughts on the importance and necessity of black women-only spaces and platforms?

 

In a world that is not only anti-black, but anti-women, one that is defined by what the queer black feminist scholar Moya Bailey calls ‘misogynoir’, these are so important. After seeing the backlash to the important space that is #ForBlackGirlsOnly, I wrote that we as Vanguard say “‘Njalo!’ to all those who use their “#AllLivesMatter” logic to issues that specifically affect black women. I have written before about how the presence of white bodies in spaces where black women come to heal can be deeply hurtful and divisive.” I quoted her then and I quote her again because I think the words of the brilliant and brave Sivu Onesipho Siwisa, organiser of #ForBlackGirlsOnly and Founder of Ikasi Pride summarise it best:

 

“I think the time has long gone for us to tip toe around needing Black only spaces. I am not apologetic about that. We cannot deal with trauma and damaging experiences anywhere because we are called upon to be ‘inclusive’. NO! Everywhere, every day, we are called upon to explain and legitimise our pain; as Black people, as Women, as Queer and Trans folk. Everyday we are expected to rise through the trenches of our experiences in order to justify why we are worthy of being alive, unharmed or not traumatized, particularly to people who could not care less if we are harmed or traumatised. #ForBlackGirlsOnly is a deliberate and unapologetic space to centre the lives and experiences of Black women right across gender and sexuality lines. It is a space to share tools to build ourselves. A space to tend to our wounds – wounds we may have not even known we had. It is a space of safety, however momentary, where Black girls are not threatened. This space is especially important if Black Girls want to survive in a world not designed to see them alive. It is even more important now, as we have realised that we still have to explain our pain and have it weighed or debated for validity. I am unapologetic about wanting to create spaces where Black people can breathe without having to mumble or silence themselves around Whiteness out of fear of offending or hurting our White counterparts. Personally, I will not debate my pain or trauma as a Black Queer Woman. I will also not coddle or baby walk anyone about it. I am certainly not wanting it validated or legitimised by anybody. Just don’t distract me trying to deal with it.”

 

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Is there such a thing as positive discrimination?

 

To be honest, that is a very tiring question, one that is usually followed in conversations with those who are against affirmative action policies and are wilfully blind to the continuing legacy of past (and current) injustice. It is related to the ideas of so-called ‘reverse racism’, ‘reverse sexism’ and ‘misandry’. Yes of course certain forms of discrimination are justified. The reason it is a tiring question is because, as Sivu Siwisa mentions, we are constantly being asked to justify ourselves. The only reason I will articulate the reasons as I have done in the past question is to address the concerns of black and other historically disadvantaged groups who feel that they are not justified in taking corrective action for themselves.

 

At the beginning of this month you penned an editorial entitled We are Your Sisters Killjoy… as a response to womens month. Can you tell us more about the sentiments of that piece, as well as your thoughts on women’s day/month in general.

 

The editorial was a play on the Ghanian feminist writer Ama Ata Aidoo’s brilliant novel ‘Our Sister Killjoy’. I used it in commentary of the way in which “gender talk” and “women’s empowerment” is done in South Africa skirting radical and transformative gender work. Women’s month is a very conservative take on gender that is untransformative for the vast majority of South African women and, amongst other issues of gender equality, leaves the country in a position where for example gender based violence is ordinary.

 

Essentially the sentiment is that we are ‘Killjoys’ of the ways in which we avoid addressing patriarchy and the many forms of violence that it comes in – be it physical abuse, emotional abuse, or patriarchal gender norms and roles.

 

As said, “We are Your Sisters Killjoys of all things banal in their reinforcement of patriarchy and white supremacy through notions of women’s empowerment that hinge themselves on the image of the ever-suffering Strong Black Woman. We are the Sisters Killjoys of all notions of black womanhood that Hoteps love, you know, the ‘Nubian Black Queen’ ever loyal and devoted to her ‘Black King’. We are the Sisters Killjoys of all notions of black womanhood that Fake Deep men or ‘progressive patriarchs’ such as Steve Harvey will so generously advise us to become in order for us to become marriageable.”

 

What alternative would you posit? How can we celebrate women without being discriminatory?

 

The point is that you cannot celebrate women without being committed to fighting patriarchy and other systematic forms of oppression such as racism, homophobia, classism and ableism that are interlinked with it. If you continue to celebrate women while continuing with those oppressions then what you are doing is harmful because it is a distraction from what is important for us to focus on.

 

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Looking to the future, what changes do you hope to see in our society?

 

We tweeted this the other day:

tweet

 

We hope to see the decolonisation project that is being carried forth by student movements and black youth come into full effect in South Africa, the continent and the wider world.

 

Similarly, looking ahead, where do you see yourself and Vanguard?

 

Of course in the very near future, October to be exact, my debut novel Sweet Medicine will be published by Blackbird, an imprint of Jacana. That is exciting and scary because I find fiction to be more personal than non-fiction because I think you really get to know someone through their imagination and I’m letting people in on that.

 

Beyond that at this point in time, I know that I want to continue to be a writer of fiction and non-fiction. I would like to be an academic. I would like to contribute to meaningful thought and action that will help bring us closer to those black feminist futures. I will pursue whatever is required in order for me to do that.

 

Likewise, Vanguard aims to be a platform that contributes to meaningful thought and action in bringing us closer to those black feminist futures in South Africa, the continent and the wider world. We will be guided by that – whether that means we need to get into print, stay exclusively digital, publish books, create more web series, host more events, decide to have contributors as exclusively black women, or that we decide we need to publish news – we don’t know, but we are excited and want to continue the process of unlearning to relearn.

 

Panashe-Chigumadzi_Sweet-Medicine_book-cover

 

vanguardmagazine.co.za

facebook.com/vanguardmagazine

 

Photos of Panashe by Tarryn Hatchett.

 

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The post Creative Women | Panashe Chigumadzi On The Importance Of Love For Any Kind Of Radical And Transformative Politics appeared first on Between 10 and 5.

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Gabriella Pinto <![CDATA[Creative Women | Rebecca Davis on Writing, the Media & Feminism]]> http://10and5.com/?p=121064 2015-08-27T16:23:17Z 2015-08-27T14:34:03Z Award-winning journalist Rebecca Davis has zero tolerance for sexism, thinks news shouldn't be boring and believes the good outweighs the bad.

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Rebecca Davis

 

Award-winning journalist Rebecca Davis is equally sagacious and humorous in her coverage of topics ranging from national importance to anecdotes of ordinary South African life. She is a staff writer for the Daily Maverick, has a TV column in the Sunday Times and a notable 28.K followers on Twitter. In 2014 she won the African Story Challenge and this year her much anticipated book, ‘Best White and Other Anxious Delusions’ was published. Rebecca has zero tolerance for sexism, thinks news shouldn’t be boring and believes the good outweighs the bad.

 

You’ve spent part of your life growing up in Malawi, studying at Rhodes and then Oxford. Career wise you’ve been a fruit packer and worker at a dictionary. Can you elaborate on your journey so far? At what point did you realise you wanted to be a journalist?

 

I grew up in Malawi under the dictatorship of Hastings Kamuzu Banda, where I learned early just how differently girls could be treated to boys. Under Banda’s rule, females were forbidden from wearing shorts or trousers in public. To make up for it, I’ve been living in jeans ever since. After lingering as long as I could at universities in South Africa and the UK, I was faced with the daunting task of actually getting a job. I graduated from Oxford in the same month that Lehman Brothers collapsed, heralding the start of the global financial crisis. It wasn’t a good time to be making a career. I spent a few years doing everything from ushering in a cinema, dressing up as a Christmas elf in shopping centres, and, eventually, working at the Oxford English Dictionary. I also started writing, both as a blogger and on a freelance basis for magazines. When I came home to South Africa in 2011, it was just at the right time. The online journalism project that I most wanted to work for – the Daily Maverick – was just expanding, and I persuaded editor Branko Brkic to take a chance on me. He was mad enough to do so, and now he’s stuck with me.

 

How has your personal identity within the South African landscape shaped your journalistic pursuits?

 

Being a gay woman in South Africa certainly influences the issues that are closest to my heart, and in particular the ongoing struggle for gender equality. Of course, as a privileged white woman it is very hard to make the case that I find myself personally, materially discriminated against. Nonetheless, sexism pervades South African society: in politics, in the media, in advertising, in popular culture and so on.

 

Currently, there’s a lot of furore regarding the state of the country’s media. What in your opinion is not receiving enough coverage and why do think this is?

 

As with media all over the world, there’s a constant tension between producing in-depth social justice reporting, and the need to turn a profit. Sadly, the two often don’t go together. People complained about the amount of attention given to the Oscar Pistorius trial, for instance, but the sad truth is that that reporting broke records for public interest. For a long time, the most-read article on one South African news website was a story about a woman who had sex with a Jack Russell. It’s easy to say that the media feeds the public trivial nonsense, but the reality is that often it’s public appetites that feeds the production of that trivial nonsense. 

 

I’d love to see more attention paid to the struggles of ordinary people, and I’d also like more reporting on issues of gender beyond violence. But newsrooms are shrinking, budgets get smaller every year, and journalists are under pressure to churn out the greatest number of pieces in the shortest possible time. That’s not to say that we, as media, shouldn’t try to do better. We should. But we also need support from the public – evidence that the public is willing to pay for high-quality online content, for instance.

 

 In 2014, you won the African Story Challenge for reporting on the state of mine workers’ health. What was the process like and what drew you to this particular topic?

 

The issue of mineworkers’ health is both poignant and deeply unjust. These are men who have spent years working underground for a pittance, who have developed chronic lung disease which renders them incapable of continuing work, and who are then essentially sent home to die. While they produce billions in profits for the mines, attempts to win financial compensation for their disease from the mines usually ends in failure. It’s not just men who suffer – it’s very much women too, who are left to shoulder the burden of supporting families alone due to their husbands’ ill-health. All in all, it’s a story of grotesque corporate neglect stretching back over a century.

 

 Of all the subjects you’ve covered so far, which have made the most impact on you and why?

 

Mineworkers’ disease was a big one for me because I was given the time to explore the issue in depth – unusual in this era of fast-paced newsrooms. I’ll never forget covering the 2011/2012 Western Cape farmworkers’ strikes, because the scenes were chaotic, the stakes felt very high and in some instances journalists were targeted. Lastly, begrudgingly, I have to list the Pistorius trial. I spent so many weeks in that courtroom that I’ll probably need deep hypnosis to erase the memories.

 

How does creativity form part of your daily writing process, if at all?

 

It depends what kind of writing you’re doing. I try to inject a bit of personality into everything I write because otherwise I bore myself, and I’m lucky to write for a website which supports that. If you write hard news for a daily newspaper, sometimes you don’t get that privilege. But fundamentally, I don’t think news has to be boring, or feel like homework to read.

 

Wit plays a large role in your writing. What are your observances about South African humour?

 

I don’t think you can really generalise about a “national” sense of humour as such – unless you look at the ongoing supremacy of Leon Schuster at the box office, and conclude we’re all nuts for slapstick and blackface. I think South Africans like to laugh, though. At themselves and at each other. There’s a surprising amount of laughter in Parliament, though admittedly quite a lot of it is mocking.

 

Your book ‘Best White and Other Anxious Delusions’ has been well received. What inspired you to write it and have there been any interesting responses that took you by surprise?

 

I was approached by my publisher, Pan Macmillan, to write a book. They weren’t very prescriptive about what form it would take. I write a lot of very serious, earnest stuff every week for the Daily Maverick about politics and gender and society and I realized that what I really wanted was to write something that would make people laugh. Personally, I’m sick of books by political analysts promising some unique understanding of the soul of the country, or predicting the imminent collapse of South Africa as we know it. I wanted to write a collection of humorous essays telling stories or recording random observations about life. Essentially, I hoped reading it would be like sitting down with someone and having a glass of wine. Responses generally have been exceptionally kind. I think there are those people who see the title and think it is either some hectic treatise about race relations, or a white supremacist’s how-to guide. Thankfully neither is the case.

 

Technology makes social media activism an easy pursuit and provides the platform for feminists to highlight their concerns, yet at the same time it’s also a fertile ground for misogynistic abuse. What are your thoughts regarding feminism in the digital age and the experience of this in reality?

 

Social media is an amazing channel for rallying interest groups, and this is as true for feminism as any other cause. Of course, much of it is ‘slacktivism’ – change your avatar and end rape – but it’s still heartening to see the way pro-feminist campaigns circulate, particularly generated by young women.  The ugly side of the coin, of course, is the misogyny that flourishes in this space. When the internet took off, some people imagined that it would be this utopian space where men and women would be able to participate as equals, freed of the normal social currents in the real world. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out like that. Men get abused online as well as women, but women tend to get gendered, sexualized abuse in the way that men don’t. In other words: insults to women tend to be preoccupied with the fact that they are women, because being a woman is automatically inferior. On balance, I’d like to think the good outweighs the bad. That while women do get harassed, bullied and stalked online, there are also unprecedented possibilities for women to take up public platforms and express autonomy on the internet.

 

What are some of the consequences of being unashamedly vocal in your beliefs?

 

Basically, that you have to come to terms with the fact that some people will hate you. This is hard if, like me, you want to be liked. It particularly sucks when you write something and people whose opinions you really respect disagree with it. I don’t really care when sexist assholes tell me I’m an idiot female. I do care very deeply when someone I respect tells me I’ve got it horribly wrong.

 

You have an impressive following on Twitter. How has social media influenced the way you work as a journalist? What do you love or loathe about the medium?

 

Many journalists are expected to live-tweet events and press conferences these days, which adds an element of stress and effort to the job. (I’m fortunate because there’s no such expectation on me. I’m also allowed to tweet what I like, because we’re sort of anarchic like that, whereas many other South African media organisations have increasingly tight social media policies.) The major way in which Twitter has changed the game for journalists is that “breaking news” is no longer something media outlets really do. Far more often, it’s what people on Twitter do. So your value as a journalist increasingly has to be premised on something additional to speed or proximity to changing events: providing analysis, deeper context, or a different take, for instance. I find Twitter very funny, particularly when South African users all pile on to a particular topic. Obviously I hate it when people tweet evil shit to me, but then I block them with an effortless twitch of my finger and move on with my life.

 

You spend copious amounts of time in parliament. How much agency and urgency do you think high-ranking women in government really have when it comes to creating progressive policies that would improve women’s lives in South Africa? It seems that despite having a fair number of female MPs, many women still suffer huge injustices on a daily basis. What are your thoughts on this and do you think having a female president would change things?

 

It’s definitely a fallacy to think that female leaders automatically result in either improved policies for women or greater numbers of other women in leadership. History has taught us that repeatedly. But equally, it’s absolutely vital that we get numbers of women in politics up. One reason is the power of role-modelling: if young women never see women in power, they grow up not considering it as an attainable goal for themselves. US states which have visible female political candidates experience higher levels of political engagement among women.

 

People also want to see people who look like them representing them. Can a man truly and authentically represent the interests of women, if they don’t know what it’s like to live like a woman? If they don’t know, for instance, how certain areas of town where men feel safe make women feel uncomfortable? Some men obviously can represent women very well – in some cases, better. But there’s also international research to suggest that female MPs lobby harder for issues like parental leave, childcare and gender equality laws.

 

 Lastly, what kind of contribution would you like to make to your industry, and on a personal level?

 

If I make a few people think, laugh, or both, that seems more than enough to me. I’d also like to be remembered as someone who swore quite a lot in public.

 

Follow Rebecca on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Jeanine Cameron

 

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Layla Leiman <![CDATA[Creative Women | Marianne Fassler on Building an Anti-Fashion Label]]> http://10and5.com/?p=121474 2015-08-27T16:23:22Z 2015-08-27T11:36:04Z Unaffected by trends and passing fads, Marianne Fassler says that her designs respond to the global zeitgeist and voice on the street.

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Fashion icon, successful business woman, mentor and creative visionary, Marianne Fassler needs little introduction. Over the course of her illustrious career, which spans more than three decades, Marianne has breathed her personal eclectic aesthetic into each superbly crafted Leopard Frock garment. Working from her studio in Saxonwald with a dedicated and established team, Marianne’s designs appeal to a wide spectrum of women who love individuality, identity, craftsmanship and diversity in their wardrobe.

 

Unaffected by trends and passing fads, Marianne says that her designs respond to the global zeitgeist and voice on the street. By immersing herself deeply in all expressions of art and culture, she imbues rich layers of reference into her designs, making them collectable, timeless, and as she likes to call them, “anti-fashion”.

 

What first drew you to fashion and what about it has held you captivated all these years?

 

I am fascinated by the power of dressing. Fashion as such is very fickle and transitory, but if you know how to dress, it is very empowering. I have stayed in this business because I have made it an interesting creative profession that goes way beyond fashion.

 

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Fashion is a notoriously difficult industry to make it in, especially as an independent designer. Please can you share your journey with us, and some of the challenges and triumphs you’ve experienced getting to where you are today?

 

Some of the things I did right can only be evaluated in retrospect. I never take business for granted. My clients are at the top of my pyramid and everybody at Leopard Frock knows that the client is special and should be respected. We have had generations of clients and return business is the mainstay of our business. Every season we entice our clients to come in and try new things. We are never complacent or predictable. The market place is flooded with cheap unremarkable clothes. We excel at creative, crafted garments that fit. Our service is impeccable and our communication is selective.

 

What’s the story behind the name Leopard Frock, and how is this creative workspace important to the ethos of your label?

 

Leopard Frock is a fun derivative of that generic Leopard Rock place name. It situates the brand in Africa yet playfully uses a rather old fashioned fashion term to invite you in. Leopard is also inextricably linked to our brand…it happened organically and has become part of who we are.

 

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How important is it for a designer to live their brand?

 

It is absolutely essential if you want to create a brand. I am the brand. I wear only my own clothes, but I also have an ethical stance, an intellectual opinion and an interesting (to others) lifestyle…you have to live your art and that adds layers to the brand you represent. Having said that, it’s not a constructed brand identity. I literally live my art. I am what you get.

 

What are your thoughts on the high turnaround of trends and seasons in fashion, and conversely, sustainability?

 

I don’t enter that fray at all. I am very aware of trends and know the origins of trends. I hope to identify them way in advance by being aware of current affairs, seminal events and life changing catastrophes (like 9/11). People respond to the zeitgeist and analysts only spot the change in behaviour once it has in fact become a trend on the street. That is why ‘trends’ as such are so boring…they are already mainstream by the time they reach the chain stores. One has to stay ahead of the curve. Sustainability is another subject all together. Fashion as we see it in magazines and in store, has a very limited shelf life. It is almost built in to be obsolete. It is not meant to be sustainable. You want people to constantly buy new stuff…..I have always maintained that I am anti-fashion. I encourage collectability and originality, which is both timeless yet always completely current (on trend)…because of my response to the voice on the streets.

 

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What is your design philosophy and what criteria do you use to gauge your own creations?

 

I design for women. I want them to love the clothes and to wear them often. I want them to come back for more and for them to feel beautiful in them. My brand is about lifestyle. It is not exclusively about special occasions. I sell women real clothes for real, sometimes big lives. All my clients are independent, interesting women. I guess I gauge my own creations by the way people engage with or respond to them. It shows in my sales.

 

What role does experimentation and play have in your creative process and what do these elements facilitate?

 

I always experiment, push the envelope and re-invent classics. Creativity needs to be unpredictable and spontaneous.

 

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In what ways do colour, print and texture inspire you and figure in your work? 

 

I love working with colour print and texture.  It gives a vibrancy and tactile quality to my work.  I am not big on digital printing because it reduces everything to one dimension. Texture is also important. People need to feel cosy/sensuous/comfortable in their clothes, so I have a high number of stretch fabrics in every collection. I want you to wear my clothes even on your ‘fat’ days.

 

How has your generosity towards the people you work with and mentor rewarded and influenced your own creativity?

 

One cannot work creatively in a vacuum. I rely on feedback, on fresh eyes, on institutional memory and also on a stable, dependable work force. We all love working here because it is a nurturing, rewarding, exciting place to work…what a joy!

 

Can you tell us a little about your current creative muse? 

 

We are working a lot with surface texture in the form of pleating and also with asymmetry and awkward shapes. We love the organic quality of curved lines and bulbous shapes.  We have an on-going discourse with fabric, shape and fit, so our work constantly adapts to that. I don’t discard muses once I have used them!

 

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How do other art forms and disciplines inspire you and influence your work?

 

It is inextricably linked to everything I do. I am very aware of historical and current music, art, architectural, cinema etc. in South Africa. My ear is very attuned to the street and the current debates.

 

Is fashion art?

 

No, it’s a powerful communication tool.

 

What does it mean to you to be South African today, and what about this excites you and inspires your work?

 

Africa, and specifically South Africa, is my primary source of inspiration.  I am essentially an African as opposed to being French or American.

 

Who are the creative visionaries that have provided guidance to you along the way, and what impact have they had on your work?

 

There have been many and hopefully will be many more. As a creative person you never know when you need a new muse, but you recognise it when it appears on your horizon.

 

www.leopardfrock.co.za

 

Photographs of Marianne by Tarryn Hatchet.

 

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