Zanele Muholi

(South Africa 1972 – )

Bhekisisa, Sakouli beach, Mayotte, from the series Somnyama Ngonyama

Location
Not on display
Further information

Artist and activist Zanele Muholi sees their practice as a form of advocacy and resistance, channelling their portraiture and moving image work into a deep engagement with black queer and trans visual history in South Africa. They are acutely aware of the power of self-presentation and the potential political impact of portraiture. Muholi’s photographic work is a forceful critique of the racism that underscores photographic history as it pertains to the representation of Black people. Alert to the power imbalance that often defines the relationship between photographer and photographed, Muholi assertively returns the agency over the image to the subject. In the series Somnyama Ngonyama that subject is the artist themselves. The agency, in this instance, is theirs.

Of this body of work, Muholi has said:
Somnyama Ngonyama (meaning ‘Hail, the Dark Lioness’) is an unflinchingly personal approach I have taken as a visual activist to confronting the politics of race and pigment in the photographic archive. It is a statement of self-presentation through portraiture. The entire series also relates to the concept of MaID (‘My Identity’) or, read differently, ‘maid’, the quotidian and demeaning name given to all subservient black women in South Africa.
Muholi 2017

Year
2016
printed 2020
Media
Photograph
Medium
gelatin silver photograph
Dimensions
52.0 x 100.0 cm
Credit
Purchased with funds provided by the Photography Collection Benefactors' Program 2020
Accession number
14.2020
Copyright
© Zanele Muholi