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Penny Penny Day

South Africa

The Penny Penny is an annual commemoration taking place on 5 November in South African townships.This tradition origin from the Guy Fawkes night, witch was celebrated in 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. Nowadays white South African don’t celebrate it anymore, however in townships this tradition is still alive. Instead of popping fireworks, children and teenagers have developed their own festivity by dressing up in their mother’s best clothes, running around the neighborhood, singing and asking for money. It’s still unclear how or why the cross-dressing custom developed. In Katlehong, a township south east of Johannesburg where the pictures have been shoot, most of the people don’t even know where celebration origins. It’s now more often associated with homosexual rights movement. In South African cities the gay social acceptance is wider than 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 same-sex marriages has been legalized, the Gauteng province, where Johannesburg is located, registered the highest pick of couples. Part of the project Born Free, this series of formal portraits shows a documentary approach mixed to a fake-fashion visual language.

YEAR: 2014 LOCATION: Katlehong, Johannesburg INFO:  Imacon 848 scan from bleached Fuji FP-100 instant film. Original positive films were given to the portrayed kids. AWARDS: – 30under30 by Magnum Photos -PDN-Photo District News Photo Annual Award in documentary/photojournalism category EXHIBITIONS:  – 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