Drummies
Alice Mann

Oct. 2, 2021 – Jan. 23, 2022
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The exhibition ‘Drummies’ by the photographer Alice Mann shows the story of proud and self-confident young female athletes in South Africa. The eponymous subculture of these drum majorettes first manifested itself during parades through the streets of Cape Town in the 1970s. At the beginning of the 1980s, the sport was at the height of its popularity, but participation has since dropped dramatically. Today the sport is pervaded by a sense of nostalgia, but it is also still practiced in competitive clubs and school teams. For this multiple award-winning photo series – which she has been working on since 2017 – Mann has managed to capture the sense of community and sisterhood while also portraying the individual personalities of the young athletes.

The sport brings girls and young women from different backgrounds together. For the women – especially those from marginalised communities – the sport is offering a safe space where they can escape from their everyday realities. The demanding practice schedule reflects the dedication of the girls and their ability to work hard and develop new skills. The military precision used to perform the sport’s complicated routines requires stamina and  discipline. The solidarity within the team boosts a sense of belonging and self-worth. While still often restricted and faced with many social challenges in their daily lives, being a ‘Drummie’ gives these girls and women an opportunity to excel.

Extravagant costumes

The exhibition at the Kunsthal presents 27 powerful portraits and documentary photos. In a playful collaboration Mann lets herself be guided by how the girls and women themselves wish to present their identity; they are looking into the camera self-confidently. For the women it is a great privilege to wear the brightly coloured, bling-embellished uniforms. These striking uniforms enhance the sense of distinctiveness, pride and self-confidence. Each team has a characteristic style, and their costumes serve as visual markers for the Drummies’ solidarity. With commitment and nuance, Mann’s images convey the story of a young generation of strong and determined women. 
 

Alice Mann

The South African documentary and portrait photographer Alice Mann (1991) was born in Cape Town, where she studied at the Michaelis School of Fine Art. Growing up in a new democracy, she belongs to the post-apartheid generation. Mann currently lives in London. In her work she explores themes like the ongoing social injustice in South Africa. She strives to create images that portray her subjects in a powerful way and convey a hopeful narrative. In 2018, Mann won several awards for her series Drummies, including the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize and the LensCulture Emerging Talent Award. A book about Alice Mann’s long-term photo project Drummies, published by Gost Books, will be appearing this year. 

Collaboration

The exhibition Drummies is realised in collaboration with AFRONOVA GALLERY, and is supported by vfonds.

4. Siphithemba Mshengu, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2018.jpg
Siphithemba Mshengu Curro, Thatchfield Primary Majorettes Johannesburg, South Africa, 2018. Photo © Alice Mann. Courtesy AFRONOVA GALLERY
3. Dr Van Der Ross Primary Drum Majorettes, Cape Town, South Africa, 2017.jpg
Dr Van Der Ross Primary Drum Majorettes, Cape Town, South Africa, 2017. Photo © Alice Mann. Courtesy AFRONOVA GALLERY
2. Faheema Ali, Zenobia Mohammed, Zoey Harris, Nikita Anderson, Britney Vilander and Raeesah Adams, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2018.jpg
Faheema Ali, Zenobia Mohammed, Zoey Harris, Nikita Anderson, Britney Vilander and Raeesah Adams Sophiatown Majorettes Club Johannesburg, South Africa, 2018. Photo © Alice Mann. Courtesy AFRONOVA GALLERY.
8. Chloe Heydenrych, Paige Titus, Ashnique Paulse, Elizabeth Jordan and Cleo de Kock, Cape Town, South Africa, 2018.jpg
Chloe Heydenrych, Paige Titus, Ashnique Paulse, Elizabeth Jordan Tammy Baantjies and Cleo de Kock Durbanville, Fairmont High School Majorettes Cape Town, South Africa, 2018. Photo © Alice Mann. Courtesy AFRONOVA GALLERY
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