“That is not how we do it in South Africa!” Laverne Wyatt-Skriubakken proudly explained to the audience at a fashion and music party in Oslo, Norway. Instead of striking stiff stone-faced poses, the models at this event danced down the runway smiling and laughing. Their attitudes complemented the bright and bold patterns they wore-it is all part of what Laverne, founder and Art Director, calls the mZansi Life. mZansi comes from “e zantsi” which, is slang for South Africa. mZansi Life includes events planning, fashion sales and graphic design. Laverne, who is originally from Durban, South Africa explains that “mZansi Life represents my personal philosophy and that is to enjoy the ‘Southern Life’. This is a life of sunshine, creativity, optimism, color and design. My goal is to bring these ideals from South Africa to Norway.”
It was a pleasure learning from someone with such a happy and energetic creative spirit. In this interview Laverne explains her artistic style, why she “love migrated” to Norway and brought the sun with her and gives advice to graphic designers who are interested in working for themselves. She also mentions that she is open to collaborations for future projects so we encourage all the budding designers and fashionistas to keep in touch.
You are originally from South Africa and currently living in Oslo, Norway. What made you want to travel? Why Norway?
We want you to tell us (1.) what Live Unchained means to you and (2.) why you want to contribute to and or support this project. Anyone can participate, in any language—this includes our brothers and sisters outside of the continental United States. Simply make a comment to this post. In no more than 5 sentences, respond to both points (1.) and (2.).
The editresses will review the responses and announce the reply that we feel touched us the most. The “winner” (even though we love you all) will receive a free t-shirt from our Live Unchained store. The winner will be announced, February 22, 2009.
Here is what Live Unchained means to us:
We have described Live Unchained as a collection of women coming together, from across the African Diaspora, to collectively create a multi-media anthology. Beyond that, however, it is a way of thinking and living (a philosophy), as well as a movement.
Mya B. explores black women’s experiences and opinions about relationships, sex and sexuality in her provocative documentary film, Silence: In Search of Black Female Sexuality In America. Some of the content may be considered “graphic,” but her artistic choices are purposeful. In showing scenes of white slave-masters raping black women, females willingly engaging in sexual acts and performing in racy music videos, Mya B. provides the American historical and cultural contexts that produce stereotypical images of black females. She also represents the voices of black women as they openly discuss when and how they lost their virginity and how their religious views, family, desires and fears shaped their ideas about sex.
In addition to including several personal accounts, Mya B. conducts interviews with many experts including Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, Dr. Llaila O. Afrika, professor Tricia Rose and Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Mya B.’s film helps to break the silence and demonstrate why black women and their sexual histories, desires, frustrations and experiences need to be heard.
In this interview Mya B. shares her own journey to break the silence and tell this story. She was so committed to this film that she funded it out of pocket–almost to the point of eviction. She also gives advice to budding filmmakers, discusses her current projects, including her recent trip to Cuba, and what living unchained means to her.
Photographer Delphine Fawundu-Buford pictured above
Delphine Fawundu-Buford’s photography shows a part of humanity that is not one dimensional. Her photography is intriguing because of its capacity to show beauty in truth. Delphine captured the strength of people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the innocence of children and the many faces of women. Her work encourages you not to simply look, but also ponder the stories of the people in the photographs.
Delphine’s work has been featured in books, magazines, CD covers and greeting cards. She has traveled to many parts of the world including South Africa, Sierra Leone, Spain, Egypt, and Cuba to photograph.
Live Unchained is pleased to have had the opportunity to ask Delphine questions about her work and thoughts on photography. More of her photography can be viewed at: http://www.delphinefawundu.com/
On your website you highlight a collection of photos called “Real Women.” Can you tell us about that project? What inspired you to explore the idea of real women through photography? How did you choose what and whom to photograph for the project? Is there a specific message that you hope your viewers will gain from this collection?
Photographs from "Real Women" by Delphine Fawundu-Buford
Real Women explores the idea of “beauty” in our society. Who is beautiful? What makes a woman beautiful and by who’s standards? The project celebrates a myriad of women who reflect beauty in their own way.
I chose women from all walks of life. Some, I knew, others I met in passing. The cool thing is that for some of the women, I had no idea what they looked like prior to shooting them. Continue reading