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Lee-Ann Olwage | South Africa

Belinda Qaqamba Kafassie, a drag artist and activist, from Elands Bay poses for a portrait next to a river that runs through Khayelitsha as part of the #blackdragmagic project. They are wearing a dress that resembles the blanket worn during the traditional rite of passage called ulwalukho (male circumcision) which young Xhosa men undergo. The portrait was created to speak about their experience as a black queer body going into a heteropatriachal space that denied that queerness ever exists.

The project #BlackDragMagic tells the stories of black queer, gender-nonconforming and trans bodies who grew up in the townships of Cape Town, where they have to navigate their daily lives. The project is about augmenting the power in these stories of daily township spatial navigation, migration, culture-,gender- and sexual-identity. The project was created to serve as a platform of expression for black queer bodies where they were invited to co-create images they felt told their stories in a way that is affirming and celebratory. The project was shot in Khayelitsha, a partially informal township in Western Cape, South Africa, located on the Cape Flats in the City of Cape Town. For many the township is home and the space where they navigate their daily lives. In reality the township is also a space where they are subjected to harassment, violence and discrimination on a daily basis. The process of creating the project became a radical and progressive act of activism to reclaim the township and to stand up against the overwhelming climate of discrimination black queer bodies face in the township. 

Lee-Ann Olwage is a visual storyteller and photographic artist from South Africa. Her work explores themes of identity, transitions and universal narratives through long-term collaborative projects. There is an overarching theme of celebration in her work and she is interested in using the medium as a mode of celebration and co-creation. Her long term collaborative projects allow subjects to engage in the co-creation of their stories and how they are represented. 


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