South Africa’s queer avant-garde artist, Umlilo’s new documentary, is produced by Black Sheep Films, directed by Swiss journalist, Cristina Karrer, and produced by ALV.
The film, titled ‘Mask’, looks at Umlilo’s avant-garde career thus far, as they straddle making thought-provoking music and art, against a volatile political backdrop of LGBTQ+ rights in SA, the rise in hate-crimes, and the development of a gender-neutral ID document.
A mask allows the interior to form an artistic expression, and covers-up reality through a progressive constitution. What a mask achieves is a liberation for the artist to express their uniqueness, and fulfil the non-binary elements of being.
What a mask covers-up nestles within the socio-political, where the progression of policy fails to police the harsh realities that affect the South African LGBTQI community. A mask, therefore, in its many facets, is a tool to conceal the cracks of society, and a tool to liberate the fragmented pieces of an artist.
The Black Sheep Twelfth Instalment is a film that captures the nuances of the mask that shapes the many facets of artist, Umlilo, while investigating its ability to conceal the socio-political circumstances of the LGBTQI community, in relation to the gender neutral reform of South Africa’s ID (Identification Document) Document.
Programmes Specialist at the Media Advocacy Organisation, Iranti, Sibusiso Khewsa, applies analysis on the basis of this gender neutral reform, stipulating 1) The constitutional change will limit the power of gender gatekeepers, 2) there is a contradiction between the constitution and LGBTQI reality, and 3) to reduce violence against LGBTQI, parliament must process the hate crimes bill.
Avant-garde Musician, Performer and Entrepreneur, Umlilo, adds in-depth commentary that situates a blending between their experiences as a musician, and non-binary person within South Africa. The artist discusses their family up-bringing, identifying as non-binary, make-up as a means of highlighting their feminine and masculine traits, lays insight into the distinction between the constitution versus reality, and expresses the progression of masks that situate form Siya Is Your Anarchist to their eventual transformation as Umlilo or the Fire.