The importance of safe spaces is increasingly an important conversation around the world, and in South Africa, with the alarming rates of gender-based violence and violence against the queer community, there is no better time than now to highlight those playing their part in achieving this.
This is What Makes Us Girls* started out as a zine created in response to the lack of platforms willing to showcase the work of young black, queer, femme, and womxn artists. The zine, founded by Boni Mnisi and Wesley Leal, both multi-disciplinary artists in their own right, launched its first issue in 2017 and focused on works by young womxn and non-binary artists living in South Africa with the sole purpose of inspiring contributors to continue creating whilst simultaneously breaking down systemic barriers.
We caught up with the duo to find out more about the project, their successes thus far; and what the future holds for ThisIsWhatMakesUsGirls:
“On October 30th we launched the zine with a party at the Waiting Room which I can – without a doubt – say was one of the best nights of my life. For womxn and queer people, clubbing is an exercise in surveillance. Because of the constant threat we’re under, we have to be aware of so many things happening around us, we sometimes miss out on the enjoyment of being out because we’re too focused on some guys who’ve been looking at us for too long.
The duo has since collaborated on a Womxn’rs Day party with established DJ duo NoDiggity; recognised by the British Fashion Council; Boiler Room; and Redbull.
Words: Boni Mnisi
Images: Boni Mnisi + Lilu van Rensburg
Author: Musa Nyangiwe