The Coloured identity has a complex political and personal history in South Africa. There’s a continues rising group of creatives that are exploring and finding their place through different forms of art to carve their own identity rather than have it dictated to them.
Two of those are Mikhailia Petersen and Gemma Shepherd who have teamed up with filmmaker Jabu Newman, Jahaan van der Ross, Qiniso van Damme, Roxanne Louw, Lara Simons and Shannon van Wyk to explore this topic by concentrating specifically on the representation of Coloured women in their project called HER. Petersen says that the title for the series came intuitively. “We want it be a series that a magnitude of Coloured women can connect to.”
The project HER stems from their emphasis on the significance of Coloured women inhabiting positions where they are able to carve out and propagate their own narratives, telling authentic, frank stories about their lived experiences.
“Coloured women need not only the validation of seeing ourselves reflected in the physical form, we also need our lived experience to be acknowledged and reflected in the stories that the Fashion Industry tells. Only then will we truly have a seat at the table,” says Petersen.
This group of women hops that the series will inspire further discussions about telling experience-oriented, first person stories, as well as widen a grilling of the fashion industry and stimulate a spirit of togetherness.
HER aims to represent Coloured women in a honest and vulnerable way, in contrast to the hardened stereotype often placed on Coloured women.
“We understand that this is just a beginning and that there are so many more stories and voices that Coloured Women identify with that deserve a platform. Stories that need to be made and heard because they validate Coloured identity and the multitude of trials that Coloured women have had to go through and continue to triumph over."
Photography credit: Gemma Shepherd
This article first appeared on 702 : SHE project explores representation of coloured women