This exhibition was at autograph 214 july - 28 october 2017.
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In her first solo exhibition in London, South African visual activist Zanele Muholi (b 1972) presents her ongoing self-portrait series Somnyama Ngonyama.
In more than 60 photographs Muholi uses her body as a canvas to confront the politics of race and representation in the visual archive.
Taken primarily in Europe, North America and Africa, each portrait asks critical questions about social justice, human rights and contested representations of the black body.
Muholi’s psychologically charged portraits are unapologetic in their directness as she explores different archetypes and personae, and offers personal reflections.
Zanele Muholi was born in 1972 in Umlazi, Durban, and lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Muholi sees their practice as visual activism to effect social change. Over the past decade, they have become known globally with Faces and Phases, a pioneering portrait photography of South Africa’s LBTQI communities.
Muholi co-founded the Forum of Empowerment of Women (FEW) in 2002, and founded Inkanyiso www.inkanyiso.org, in 2009 as a forum for queer visual activist media.
Muholi studied Advanced Photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Newtown, Johannesburg, and holds an MFA in Documentary Media from Ryerson University, Toronto. They are an Honorary Professor at the University of the Arts Bremen, and has been the recipient of the prestigious Prince Claus Award and the Carnegie Fine Prize.
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Autograph would like to thank Stevenson Gallery for its support.
Banner images: 1) Zanele Muholi, Somnyama Ngonyama II, Oslo, 2015. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York. 2) Zanele Muholi, Bester I, Mayotte, 2015. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York. 3)Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness gallery installation at Autograph, London. Photograph: Zoe Maxwell.
Page images, from left: 1) Zanele Muholi, Commissioned by Autograph. 2) Zanele Muholi, Sebenzile, [detail], Parktown, 2016. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York.