This week, we feature a list of iconic queer artists from our spotlight series last year. We have a selection of musicians, photographers and other visual artists. Queer artists have been there for us and make work that affirms and corroborates our existence. The art documents and creates an archive that asserts our existence and also provides comfort and solidarity to us in times of distress. Their work both supports and is an evidence to the thriving within our community. We hope that this list can expand your knowledge of queer creators and you will find something you like.
Mal Muga: (he/they) is am a photographer and film producer. He is a trained but not practicing journalist who stumbled upon a love for visual storytelling.
Their work explores mythology, ritual and tradition. This stems from being raised in Africa with rich and diverse cultures but having no access to them because they were brought up christian and in a very globally urban environment. They are currently focusing on the themes of spirituality and male sensual expression paticularly how sexuality can impact spirituality and discovering alternative spiritualities that are more intune with being a Queer African who has always belonged contrary to the current belief on the continent.
Kabi Kimari: (they/them) is a 23 year-old multidisciplinary artist born and based in Nairobi. Their work explores the depths of African spirituality in a postmodern world, the relationship between the seen and the unseen forces that dictate our daily lives. They operate by frustrating expectations of sexuality and body imagery and exploring these topics in a surreal manner. Focusing on mental health and the relationship between that and spirituality is a great theme in their work. Nyokabi is the founder of Ujamaa, an online barter exchange market that imagines new worlds where love is paramount and capitalism is dead.
Brisbon Kofi: (he/him) – the pen name of stage and voice actor Cameron Bernard Jones – is a London-based poet and creative writer originally from New York City. His writing explores nature's elements, sex, love, trauma, and freedom through the lens of modern-day Western culture, keeping themes of black male homosexuality, African diaspora culture, and spirituality at its core. Featured work includes: “Black” for AZ Magazine during UK Black History Month 2018; and “Clock” for the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre during LGBTQ+ History Month 2020. His first audiovisual poetry collection – The Healing Section, a collection of poetic pieces put to song, photography and motion picture – was released in the spring of 2020. For UK Black Pride's 15th Anniversary Celebration Brisbon Kofi was featured in the Ogilvy digital campaign "This Is Me, This Is Home". In December 2020 HAÜS Magazine published a 6-piece editorial of his poetry and collage visual artwork for their Issue #04 Vol. 2 ‘Political Issues’.
Zawadi: (she/her) is a self-taught taught painter, a writer and a baby guitarist. She defines herself as a spiritually awakening being who's trying to understand the intricate connection between the human body and the spirit. Her paintings have been featured in Voices of African Women Anthology at I,Africa™. She was one of the featured artists in the Tiny Treasures///Nano Film Festival at The Project Space based on her current project "In the name of a man". Her artwork is part of the group exhibition of Home Is Where The Art Is at the Zeitz MOCAA Museum and her essay has been published in the Second Skin Magazine.
Umlilo: (they/them)Intergalactic shape-shifting kwaai diva Umlilo is a genre and gender bending multi-disciplinary artist. The queer performer/music producer’s signature sound dubbed ‘future kwaai’ explores and pushes the boundaries of electronic kwaito, alt-pop music in contemporary South Africa and has been a regular fixture in the international music community. Umlilo merges an avant-garde aesthetic with technology, visual art, dance, film and fashion design. They have released two acclaimed visual EP’s that have been playlisted worldwide, received over 100 000 streams online and featured across film, art, literature, fashion and music platforms. In 2017, Umlilo took their sound international with tours in North and South America and Europe with rap duo Stash Crew.
Gandani Carlton: (he/him)Gandani Carlton’s the name and fabulousity’s the game. They're an androgynous model, digital content creator and self-portraitist, currently based in Kitengela. Behold if you will, their provoking projects purposed to portray masculine beauty in a soft and flamboyant light. Androgyny is not trying to manage the relationship between opposites, it’s simply flowing between them. It’s the recognition of multiplicity which no one should take pains to explain or defend. That is an exhausting, draining and a repetitive project. All things encompassed in one, they are proud and aware of their inherent multiplicity and anyone wishing to meaningfully engage with their work, must be too…must be two.
nwaobiala: (he/they) is a Nigerian-American, queer and agender multi-disciplinary artist and archivist. Their work disassembles and reassembles the Black physical and spiritual being within African historical and cultural contexts. nwaobiala drives conversations about queerness and gender identity within the collective, cultural, and contemporary memory of the African Diaspora. They are a 2020 Bakanal de Afrique Artist Fellow and a 2020 Kolaj Institute Collage Lab Artis
Feel free to add to this list in the comment section for we cannot thrive without Black Queer Art.