Zanele Muholi

Visual Activist (they,them)

We are delighted and proud to feature the work of the internationally renowned South African visual activist Zanele Muholi.

The images selected for this festival are from Zanele Muholi’s ongoing series Somnyama Ngonyama ( Hail The Dark Lioness), in which they turn their lens on themselves to symbolically represent some of their own and their immediate ancestors’ often painful experiences. The series of self-portraits started in 2015 in their native South Africa, have also been created in various locations across the world during their travels, including London, Amsterdam, Tokyo and Australia.

A brief text for each image illuminates the context of the experience being referred to. The power of their images is grounded as much in the authenticity of the artist’s engagement as they are about their undeniable beauty and graphic impact.

Zanele Muholi’s broader practice focuses mainly on documentary photography and portraiture celebrating the existence and innate worth of black lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex people from South Africa.

Their work is meant not just for the people living in those identities, but as a powerful conscious political intervention in response to the neglect – and worse – of these people by society at large, and particularly those in positions of political and cultural power. Their work is a powerful means for the wider world to better understand the existence and presence of LGBTQI people in a positive sympathetic way.

Anna Fox

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Women on Women

Margaret Courtney-Clarke