When the worlds of hard and soft meet, it is uncertain whether the two will clash or coexist. In Lauren Brits and Jana Heyns’s most recent shoot, Sihle Khumalo radiates androgynous beauty which does not clash or coexist, no, it lives in a surprisingly liberating in-between. Just as clear-cut denim brushes against the sand, or a cozy sweater rests on concrete, there is an unexpected ease to Khumalo as he balances between the worlds of masculinity and femininity.
The shoot was inspired from a desire to capture the purity of all individuals, regardless of their gender. As Khumalo says, “Being an androgynous model I am often put in the categories of “boy” and “girl”, but this shoot embodies a genderless, neutral approach where the focus was entirely on my identity and how I express myself.”
For Khumalo, projects like these force society to rethink gender identity as defined in fashion or what is now termed African culture. As more non-binary and androgynous individuals become aware of their state, it is vital to express and celebrate their modern identity. As Khumalo exquisitely embodies self-assurance in both urban and natural backdrops, he illuminates a path for other people to fully embrace their own true selves.
As the videographer, Jana Heyns, aptly quips, “I recognize the oneness of us all in the footage and images of [Khumalo], the courage it takes to live with your heart open and with such truth.” A truth that neither clashes or coexists within two worlds, rather, sits beautifully in the in-betweens.