By Mpimo Ngoveni
We all couldn’t contain our excitement as the countdown to Faces and Phases 13 exhibition began, reality kicked in the moment we finally hit the road en route to Johannesburg where the exhibition was set to take place at the Stevenson Art Gallery on Saturday the 20th of July. The entire journey was exhilarating as we chanted and danced all the way to the city of Gold, and we formed solid bonds in a split second like we’ve known each other for ages.
Upon arrival at the Reef Hotel in Johannesburg, we were received by Terra Dick, a Faces and Phases participant and a colleague of Prof Zanele Muholi who is a prominent visual activist and the founder of Faces and Phases. Prof had just celebrated their birthday on the 19thof July, the day prior to the exhibition and thought they would celebrate it in style by hosting a joint celebratory event for their birthday and Faces and Phases 13.
The event saw multitudes of LGBTQI+ and straight people from various parts of the country coming in to commemorate a legend. Not only for this sole purpose but also having the LGBTQI+ community coming together in unity, establishing new genuine relationships, sharing life experiences and allowing every member of the community an opportunity to be in a space where they are surrounded by their own kind.
Saturday the 20th was the big day and people came in their numbers. The Stevenson Gallery was packed to capacity full of gorgeous and charismatic faces from different walks of life, among others were public figures such as TKay Kaula, an actor, Sizakele Phohleli also known as her-mentality, an author, Buhle from the soil and Yaya Mavundla, a trans activist.
To begin with, we were graced with performances by very talented young black performers in the form of drama, poetry and singing while others would indulge and feast their eyes on the beauty of the exceptional artwork on display in the gallery, portraits of black heroic South Africa lesbians aimed at creating a visual history of black lesbian lives.
Thereafter, Prof Muholi gave a very profound speech encouraging everyone to work hard to establish themselves and also aim for greater heights, not only to take pride in their queerness but also be active members of the society bringing about positive change in their lives and the lives of those around them. The speech was very packed and insightful and there’s a lot you could take away from it.
Furthermore, Muholi went on to acknowledged all those who made it possible for Faces and Phases to be a reality today, the participants, and the team who worked tirelessly to ensure that the event is a success, also recognizing all those who stood by them during their dark days and those who contributed towards their establishment.
To sum it up, it was an experience of a lifetime, we made memories and shared moments that could never be traded for anything in the world.
Mpimo Ngoveni Bio (22)
Mpimo Kalman Ngoveni was born on the 6thof July 1997 at Khensani hospital in Giyani Limpopo and is the fourth and last child of Dora Ntebane and Joseph Ngoveni. Ngoveni spent most of her childhood days in Giyani where she began her foundation phase education at Vurhonga primary school and then went on to commence her high schooling in Pretoria at Tshwane Secondary school but later on Matriculated at Giyani High school with recognition of outstanding achievement in Life sciences and Mathematics.
Ngoveni then enrolled at Nelson Mandela University, formerly known as Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. In her spare time, Ngoveni volunteers to help grade 12 learners around Eastern Cape to apply for university admission, funding and also help them with their course work in cooperation with NGOs such as Sakhikamva and Vision4Women to name a few. She also works part-time as a tutor specializing in subjects like Mathematics, Life sciences and Physical sciences. In 2016, Ngoveni worked for a tech company called Code4CT as a facilitator, teaching grade 10 girls in Cape town how to code using programming languages such as HTML and CSS.