ZANELE MUHOLI | VISUAL ACTIVISM AND BLACK LESBIAN VISIBILITY IN SOUTH AFRICA
By Melanie Nathan, September 17, 2013.
Award winning South African lesbian artist and activist Zanele Muholi will appear with her works at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center to discuss her visual activism, her work with the queer media collective Inkayiso, her ongoing photographic portrait series of black lesbians and transmen Faces and Phases (2006-present), and portions of her film Difficult Love, a highly personal take on the challenges facing Black lesbians in South Africa today as told through Muholi’s life, work, friends and associates.
Zanele is a personal friend and an amazing inspiration to me. Her activism is boundless and this is a not to be missed event by anyone in the Los Angeles area. She crosses boundaries and goes to places with her work, where none have dared to go. She works to empower young lesbians in South Africa, often survivors of of so called “corrective rape,” providing tools and resources that have been life altering to many.
FACES AND PHASES
The Faces and Phases series of black and white portraits by Zanele Muholi focuses on the commemoration and celebration of black lesbians’ lives – an ongoing series which offers an insider’s perspective on the lives of the black lesbians and transmen she has met on her journeys as an activist. Collectively, the portraits are at once a visual statement and an archive: marking, mapping and preserving an often invisible community for posterity. Muholi writes:
“In the face of all the challenges our community encounters daily, I embarked on a journey of visual activism to ensure that there is black queer visibility. Faces and Phases is about our histories and
the struggles that we face. Faces express the person, and Phases signify the transition from one stage of sexuality or gender expression and experience to another. Faces is also about the face-to-face confrontation between myself as the photographer/activist and the many lesbians, women and transmen I have interacted with from different places. Photographs in this series traverse spaces from Gauteng, Cape Town, Mafikeng and Botswana to Sweden.”
Muholi embarked on this project in 2006, taking portraits of women from the townships in South Africa. In 2008, after the xenophobic and homophobic attacks that led to the mass displacement of people in her home country, she decided to expand the ongoing series to include photographs of women from different countries. Collectively, the portraits are an act of visual activism.
Zanele Muholi’s Faces and Phases series was included in Art Basel in 2011, and DOCUMENTA 13, which took place in Kassel, Germany in June 2012, where Muholi’s award winning documentary Difficult Love was also shown.
For latest images in the series, and further information see: http://www.stevenson.info/exhibitions/muholi/basel_faces2011.html http://www.stevenson.info/exhibitions/muholi/documenta2012.html
For more information on Zanele Muholi see: http://www.stevenson.info/artists/muholi.html
EXHIBIT and EVENT
When: Saturday, September 21, 2013 2:00 – 4:00pm
Where: L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center
The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, Room 111 1125 N. McCadden Place
Los Angeles, CA 90038