Brenda Fassie And Busiswa Gqulu: A Relationship of Feminist Expression, Aesthetics and Memory

Siphokazi Tau (Nelson Mandela University)

Works of art consciously or unconsciously reproduce or reject of the societal norms from which they emerge. Reading artists and creatives as bodies which articulate the social and political experiences (affirmation or rejection implies that the body can also construct and deconstruct particular social readings of itself. In this paper, I explore feminist corporality, aesthetics and gendered performativity in the translation of selected songs, by South African popular music icons Brenda Fassie and Busiswa Gqulu, into music videos. I argue that both artists construct “the self” and engage gendered narratives of “the self” through audio-visual form. I firstly employ the notion of homology, to compare the common thread in their articulation of black feminist discourse through their lyrics and the self-performativity of their music videos. I then focus on the aesthetic and performative elements of Gqulu’s music videos, notably the queer performativity of the Vintage Cru dancers and the staging of post-apartheid urban spaces. Through this intergenerational analysis I illustrate how popular audio-visual form participates in the representation of multiple iterations of queer and feminist performativity emerging out of the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.