A photographic exhibition exploring the life of Kewpie (1941-2012), an iconic queer figure. Kewpie was one of District Six’s most famous residents and this exhibition brings the vibrant diversity of the area to life.
The exhibition features a selection of photographs from the Kewpie Photographic Collection housed at the GALA Archives in Johannesburg. With over 700 photographic prints, it is
GALA’s largest photographic collection. Most of the photos were personally captioned by Kewpie when the photos were transferred to GALA in 1999.
Kewpie’s photographs show the value of personal archives in telling potentially lost stories. While the narrative of District Six and forced removals is relatively well known, the personal stories from inhabitants that really bring the community and its history to life are not.
From what we know, Kewpie’s gender identity was fluid, and she did not strictly identify as either male or female. However, both Kewpie and her friends tended to use feminine pronouns for each other. Kewpie was a well-known hairdresser in District Six, and later in Kensington, in Cape Town in the 1960s and 1970s. By night, Kewpie was a celebrated attendee at drag balls, and would often perform on stage.
After completing a successful seven month run at the District Six Museum Homecoming Centre in Cape Town, the exhibition, is now heading to Johannesburg.
A number of events are planned throughout the exhibition run, including:
– A Q&A with Tina Smith (District Six Museum), one of the exhibition’s curators on Saturday 18 May
– A public talk with Indian feminist author Urvashi Butalia on the evening of Tuesday 21 May
– Youth Day ‘zine workshop and presentation on Friday 14 June
– Film screening: A Normal Daughter: The Life and Times of Kewpie of District Six. Date TBC
– Film screening: Masquerading – To Hell and Back. Date TBC
The exhibition opens to the public on Friday 17 May, which is also the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia.
Venue: The Market Photo Workshop, 138 Lillian Ngoyi St, Newtown
Time: Mon to Sat: 9am to 5pm | Sunday: 10am to 4pm