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The United States premiere of Autograph’s acclaimed exhibition by Zanele Muholi.
In more than 70 photographs, visual activist Zanele Muholi (South African, b. 1972), uses their body as a canvas to confront the politics of race and representation in the visual archive. In Somnyama Ngonyama, which translates to ‘Hail The Dark Lioness’ in isiZulu, Muholi playfully employs the conventions of classical painting, fashion photography, and the familiar tropes of ethnographic imagery to rearticulate contemporary identity politics. Each black and white self-portrait asks critical questions about social injustice, human rights, and contested representations of the Black body.
Zanele Muholi is a visual activist and photographer based in Johannesburg. 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.”
Muholi co-founded the Forum for Empowerment of Women (FEW) in 2002 and Inkanyiso (www.inkanyiso.org), a forum for queer and visual (activist) media, in 2009.
Muholi studied Advanced Photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Newtown, Johannesburg, and in 2009 completed an MFA: Documentary Media at Ryerson University in Toronto. In 2013, they became an honorary professor at the University of the Arts/Hochschule für Künste Bremen. Most recently, Muholi was bestowed France’s highest cultural honor, the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts des Lettres. They were included in the South African pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013) and took part in the São Paolo Biennial (2010) and documenta 13, Kassel (2013).
This exhibition coincides with Muholi's new monograph, published by Aperture
The Museum’s presentation of Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail The Dark Lioness is made possible by the Wish Foundation and LUBO Fund.
Major funding provided by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners under the direction of Fulton County Arts & Culture. Additional funding provided by the Massey Charitable Trust. Program support provided by the Spelman College Office of the President.
Banner images: 1) Somnyama Ngonyama II, Oslo, 2015 © Zanele Muholi Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/ Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York. 2) Ntozakhe II, Parktown, 2016 © Zanele Muholi Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/ Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York. 3) Exhibition at Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta. 4) Julile I, Parktown, Johannesburg, 2016 © Zanele Muholi Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/ Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York. 5) Bester I, Mayotte, 2015 © Zanele Muholi Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/ Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York.