My queer African body is not an apology!
– Kieron Jina
Internationally renowned South African Performance Artist, Activist and Academic Kieron Jina collaborated with a number of artists from both Germany and South Africa to create the theatre performance piece ‘The Rise of the African Queer’. A creative force consisting of performance artists, sound designers, fashion designers, activists, filmmakers, dramaturg, and stage and lighting artists they set forth to create pre-eminence of the African Queer narrative at the closing event of the recently re-launched Dance Umbrella Africa at the State Theatre in Pretoria.
“Looking back at my childhood, we were not exposed to queer role models or deities. I found myself searching for a spiritual connection that also aligned with my evolving identity and ideologies. The western God I was introduced to, was always a displeased white straight man who didn’t like how I felt myself to be, that is who I am. My journey to find a god or a deity or a demi-god that looked like me and maybe sometimes even thought about me is what inspired this project; I began by looking at ancient African methodologies & histories that one cannot only locate on the internet as these archives have been destroyed or retold through a colonial gaze. In many ways the deity, the god or the demi-god represents a transcendental form of a human being, the ideal we all aspire to become.”
The collaborators of this projects include Anelisa ‘Annalyzer’ Stuurman, Yogin Sullaphen, Roman Handt, Tobias ‘Akrobat’ Purfürst, Sean Mongie, Wilhelm Disbergen, Joni Barnard, Shalom Mushwana, Negiste Yesside Johnson and Alyssa Rivas. “I decided to create an experiment to see what could come out of a process when combining these people together for a performance creation. Each of these artists were selected based on their artistic practice and how they aligned to the thematic of this creation.”
‘The Rise of the African Queer’ takes the form of an interdisciplinary live performance that investigates perspectives of the queer body of colour from a historical gaze, Afrofuturism as well as personal narrative. The key entry point that simultaneously functions as an established language of the show is the act of being photographed or filmed as a queer person. “The representation of queer bodies in photography and film has been tainted with negativity in the past, if even represented at all. The question came to mind of how would we like to be represented in the future through visual references. We have the ability to create images of ourselves, so why not create positive affirmations and why not elevate them?”
The project questions “the social constructs of alienation, ‘coming-out’ and perceiving the future”. Manifesting itself with the aid of African literature, video projections, body language and experimental sound. It attempts to look at past, current and future pictures of queer bodies in order to eliminate negativity surrounding our bodies. However, it is a known fact that queer bodies continue to act as the tastemakers of modern day society and act towards positive change. The show observes the body as an object that has been eroticised, fetishized and asks if these ideas can be let go of. If further deals with constructed identities shaped by “complex constellations” rather than just geography and social upbringing.
“I am eager to create a space where audiences can engage with a world that is far removed from their own yet the topics portrayed will allow for the audience to leave with food for thought and perhaps begin re-imagining their own personal stories.”
The show will premiere at the Momentum Theatre on the 7th April 2019 at 18:30. Tickets are available here.
Venue: Momentum Theatre, South African State Theatre
Date: 7th April 2019
Kieron Jina – Concept/ Director/Performer
Anelisa ‘Annalyzer’ Stuurman – Vocalist/ Musician/ Performer
Roman Handt – Fashion Designer
Wilhelm Disbergen – Lighting Designer
Joni Barnard – Dramaturg
Marie Fricout – Stage design advisor
Alyssa Rivas – Photographer