Photo Editions #1

Zanele Muholi

Somnyama Ngonyama

Zanele Muholi Somnyama Ngonyama Start
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    Bester V, Mayotte, 2015

    Copyright Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York

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    Somnyama III, Paris, 2014

    Copyright Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York

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  • Somnyama Ngonyama means ‘Hail, the Dark Lioness’. After having portrayed black queer and transgender women and men for years (which is ongoing), Muholi turns the camera towards herself to add a new chapter to her ‘visual activism’. With this she confronts the politics of race and pigment in the photographic archive. The result is both confusing and powerful. In her own words: ‘Experimenting with different characters and archetypes, I have portrayed myself in highly stylised fashion using the performative and expressive language of theatre. The black face and its details become the focal point, forcing the viewers to question their desire to gaze at images of my black figure. By exaggerating the darkness of my skin tone, I'm reclaiming my blackness, which I feel is continuously performed by the privileged other.’

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    Bester I, Mayotte, 2015

    Copyright Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York

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    Somnyama IV, Oslo, 2015

    Copyright Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York

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    MaID, Brooklyn, New York, 2015

    Copyright Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York

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    Thulani II, Parktown, 2015

    Copyright Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York

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  • “When I was young, I was told that I was ugly, and I had to grow up with a sense of ugliness and shame. And I had to overcome it, because nobody can love you more than you”

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    MaID I, Syracuse, 2015

    Copyright Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York

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    Bona, Charlottesville, 2015

    Copyright Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York

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  • Credits

      • Photography: From the series 'Somnyama Ngonyama.' © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York
      • Artist website: www.stevenson.info
      • Text: Nicole Segers & Bart Luirink with thanks to Stevenson, Cape Town
      • Quote: The New York Times Magazine, Oct. 8 2015
      • Curator: Nicole Segers for ZAM, June 2016. Read her motivation here.

     

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