Zakifo Muzik Festival 2016: A reflective photo-story by Robyn Perros

This photo-story captures the blissfully imperfect moments of experimentation. The unedited images by Durban-based photo-journalist, writer and artist, Robyn Perros, documents some grit and much grain of one of South Africa’s newest and most diverse ‘afro-futuristic’ music festivals on colour film. The 2016 Zakifo Muzik Festival took place in Durban from 27-29 May 2016 and this year Perros put down her pen and decided to doodle in the dark with her Pentax K1000 to capture some of it

[All images and text courtesy of Robyn Perros]

“You have the worst dance moves I have ever seen,” a drunk friend yelled over the smooth whisky voice of Vusi Mahlasela pouring out from the stage in front of us. I watched my limbs drift like lost kelp through an ocean of lazers. My joints pop like firecrackers on a tarmac. And my muscles defy the restricting skin above them, as my body navigated through the dark like a bat. He was right. I did have the worst dance moves we had ever seen.

He continued to stare, as I smiled a little wider and jumped a little harder, shaking the palm trees from the Kwa-Zulu concrete. Unscathed and unashamed – I continued to dance – hoping that my worst dance moves would pierce his memory like a spear and stay there forever. For I would rather be seen at my worst, than not seen at all. I would rather be remembered for the real, the imperfect and true, than not remembered at all.

21 when your last four images on your film naturally merge into one beautiful collision-zakifo on film © robyn perros

In a way, this tiny isolated moment of innocent inhibition sums up my experience of Durban’s Zakifo Muzik Festival. In a way, it sums up today’s modern youth culture. In a way, perhaps it could sum up everything if we had the patience to truly see.

Whether we admit it or not, we all want to be seen. Whether it’s on a wall, on a catwalk, in a book or on a stage. We all want to be remembered. It seems people today will do whatever it takes to be seen and not forgotten. But I would rather be truly seen and remembered by a select few, than merely looked at and recalled by the masses. With the small crowds present at Zakifo this year, I hope the festival shared the same sentiments as I.

20 three women-zakifo on film © robyn perros

I saw a small portion of the festival through a 50mm lens of a faulty film camera my step-father had given me. It’s my favourite camera. It’s the one I shoot the things I want to remember on. It’s the one I remember every shot planned so carefully. It’s the one that rips my heart out each time a roll of film comes out blank. It’s the one that makes every fleeting, mundane, imperfect moment unforgettable for me.

Our greatest archive is our own memory. It’s our internal internet, our personal bookshelf, our most three-dimensional photo album. With so many reviews, news, and daily media flashfloods, remembering it all is an impossible feat. So I choose to keep my memories and own interpretations close. For they are mine and ultimately, for me alone, do they truly matter.

18 mook lion from durban-painted the 2016 zakifo mural-zakifo on film © robyn perros

I will remember Zakifo as the time I had the opportunity to stand front row and inhale some of the most remarkable musicians in the world, like Songhoy Blues, Vaudou Game, Inna Modja, Blitz The Ambassador, Maya Kamaty, Vusi Mahlasela and Kid Franscescoli.

I will remember it as the time I was able to get out of the surf, and walk across the street to listen to some of the best music in Africa – with the Indian Ocean still sticky on my skin.

I will remember it as the time I was young and beautiful and danced like the world was going to end.

I will remember it for the people. The ones that make me proud to be human.

I will remember it for all the images I shot, even the dozens that didn’t come out.

EXTRA PICS-crowds-zakifo on film © robyn perros

Even though Zakifo may not have been perfect; like each photograph and memory is for me, it is important. Festivals like Zakifo should be remembered. Even if only by a few. For it is just the start of something new in Africa, something positive in the world. Something to be treasured, something to be seen.

And when I see it again in the future, I will say to myself ‘yes, I was there at the beginning.’ And each time I recall those moments. The ones where I was truly present, truly myself and truly moved – my dear friend, not only will you see me dance, you will see me fly.

02 songhoy blues from mali-zakifo on film © robyn perros

10 a moment of silence-zakifo on film © robyn perros

05 maya kamaty from reunion island 2 zakifo on film © robyn perros

03 voudou game from Togo and France at rainbow restaurant in pinetown-zakifo on film © robyn perros

08 smoke lights and fucked up film-zakifo on film © robyn perros

07 moonchild sannely from south africa-zakifo on film © robyn perros

11 songhoy blues from mali 2-zakifo on film © robyn perros

17 it's not always that fun-zakifo on film © robyn perros


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