This long-term project, by South African photographer Alice Mann, explores the unique sport of drum majorettes. The images depict the aspirational subculture surrounding all-female teams of drum majorettes affectionately known as ‘Drummies’.
Publisher: GOST Books 2021
Headerphoto: Chloe Heydenrych, Paige Titus, Ashnique Paulse, Elizabeth Jordan, Tammy Baantjies and Chleo de Kock Fairmont High School Majorettes, Durbanville, Cape Town, 2018 © Alice Mann
The sport of drum majorettes has a long history in South Africa, becoming popular in the early 80s, but participation in the sport has since dropped dramatically. In contemporary culture there is a strong sense of nostalgia linked to drum majorettes; it is viewed as the pursuit of a bygone era. However, in many marginalised communities across the country, it is still taken seriously and is considered a highly competitive sport. For the girls and young women involved, being a drummie is a privilege and an achievement, indicative of success on and off the field. The notoriously demanding practice schedules are representative of the girls’ commitment, and their ability to work hard.
While there have been various debates around the archaic sense of discipline and idealised notions of femininity associated with the sport, being part of a team offers girls a sense of belonging and emboldens their self-worth. The significance of pride and confidence is stressed to the girls, which is vital in communities where opportunities for young women are often severely limited. Being ‘drummies’ allows these girls to excel, and their distinctive uniforms serve as a visual marker of success and emancipation from their surroundings.
Spreads from the book Drummies © Alice Mann by courtesy of Gost Books
Book Specs: Drummies by Alice Mann published by GOST Books November 2021| Essay by Christine Eyene | 240 x 290 mm | 128 pages with 63 colour images | ISBN 978-1-910401-66-8 | £45.00. Available here.
Exhibition: Drummies Alice Mann at Kunsthal Rotterdam, The Netherlands (Oct. 2, 2021 – Jan. 23, 2022) (Due to the national Covid-19 restrictions, the Kunsthal is closed, at least up to and including 14 January 2022)
Alice Mann (b.1991) (b.1991) is a South African photographic artist who’s intimate portraiture essays explore notions of picture making as an act of collaboration. She aims to create images that empower her subjects and creates projects over extended periods, allowing for engaged and nuanced representations.
Her award winning series Drummies exploring female drum majorette teams in South Africa, has been selected as a winner of the Lensculture emerging photographer prize (2018), the PHMuseum Women’s ‘New Generation’ prize for an emerging photographer (2018). Four images from the series were awarded first place at the prestigious Taylor Wessing portraiture prize (2018). Mann was also the recipient of the Grand Prix at the 34th edition of the Hyeres International Festival of Fashion and Photography (2019).