Phila I, Parktown (2016), by Zanele Muholi

Friday, June 14, 2019 - 16:18

For visual activist Zanele Muholi, photography is ‘a space for people to be visible, respected and recognised.’ In 2006, Muholi began documenting members of the black lesbian and transgender community in South Africa. A later series, Crime Scene (2012), draws attention to the brutal violence routinely inflicted on the same community.

Zanele Muholi, Phila I, Parktown (2016). Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York © Zanele Muholi


Phila I, Parktown (2016) is part of Muholi’s ongoing series of self-portraits Somnyama Ngonyama: Hail the Dark Lioness. In this series, Muholi uses everyday domestic materials to craft elaborate costumes or backdrops that hold deep psychological or political significance. For each image in the series, Muholi deliberately alters the contrast in order to enhance the dark tones. Speaking of Somnyama Ngonyama: Hail the Dark Lioness, Muholi states: ‘I’m reclaiming my blackness, which I feel is continuously performed by the privileged other’.



Kiss My Genders is at Hayward Gallery from 12 June – 8 September 2019.

Hayward Gallery is open 11am – 7pm every day, except Tuesdays when the gallery is closed, with late night opening on Thursdays until 9pm.

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