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Zanele Muholi

Vuyelwa Vuvu Makubetse, 

Daveyton, Johannesburg, 2013

Courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery

Zanele Muholi: Personae

The National Underground Freedom Center, Cincinnati

Oct 1, 2016 – Jan 23, 2017

Zanele Muholi

Bester II, Paris, 2014

Courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery

South African artist Zanele Muholi refers to her work as “visual activism.”A co-founder of the Forum for Empowerment of Women (FEW) in 2002, and in 2009 Inkanyiso, a forum for queer and visual (activist) media, Muholi’s self-proclaimed mission is “to re-write a black queer and trans visual history of South Africa for the world to know of our resistance and existence at the height of hate crimes in South Africa and beyond.”


Zanele Muholi: Personae explores identity in two distinct bodies of work: Faces and Phases, a series Muholi began in 2006 and now comprising more than 300 images, documents the lives of black South African women who identify as lesbians. The Freedom Center installation will include a selection of “repeat portraits”—the same sitter photographed over a span of years—as well as videos, updating and complicating the evolving archive. Somnyama Ngonyama, a series of self-portraits Muholi began in 2015, explores various historical stereotypes, suggested through pose, costume, and gesture.


Zanele Muholi (b. 1972) is the winner of the 2016 ICP Infinity Award for Documentary Photography and Photojournalism.

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