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Born Free

Penny Penny day

The Penny Penny is an annual commemoration taking place on 5 November in South African
This tradition origin from the Guy Fawkes night, witch was celebrated in the Commonwealth
countries and hailing from Great Britain. Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when
a member of the Gunpowder Plot was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed
beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his
life, people started to lit bonfires around cities.
All over the years, white South African stopped to celebrate that day, however in townships this
tradition is still alive and instead of popping fireworks, children and teenagers have developed their
own festivities by dressing up in their mothersí best clothes, running around the neighborhood,
singing and asking for money.
Itís still unclear how or why the cross-dressing custom developed. In Katlehong, a south east
Johannesburg township where the pictures have been shooted, most of the people donít know the
origins of that celebration and it is often associated with homosexual rights movement. In cities the
gay social acceptance is wider than the rural areas thanks to the post-apartheid constitution which
was the first in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. Since 2006, when the
same-sex marriages has been legalized, the Gauteng province, where Johannesburg is located,
registered the highest pick of couples.
This series of formal portraits is part of a long term project on the first South African born-free
generation, and aims to show the phenomenon through a documentary approach mixed to a
fake-fashion visual language.


Nov. 2014


Katlehong, Johannesburg


Imacon 848 scan from bleached Fuji FP-100 instant film.
The original positive films were given to the portrayed kids.


- 30under30 by Magnum Photos
- -PDN-Photo District News Photo Annual Award in documentary/photojournalism category


- LagosPhoto Festival, Stanger, Lagos, Nigeria 11/2015
- Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation, Les Rencontres d’ Arles, FR. 07-09/2015
- Leica Galerie. Milan IT 03-04/2015