Friday, 01 July 2016 13:07

Zanele Muholi 03

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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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