Zanele Muholi’s New Exhibition opens in Johannesburg
Between 2007 and 2009, Muholi was based in Toronto, Canada, studying for a Master’s degree in Documentary Media at Ryerson University. Her thesis mapped the visual history of black lesbian identity and politics in post-apartheid South Africa. As visual activism has become global, Muholi has invited various people to participate in events internationally, beginning with the Gay Games in Chicago in 2006, and leading on to other sport events, Pride celebrations, exhibitions, photography workshops, residencies, performances, film festivals, award ceremonies and other cultural experiences in various parts of the USA, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Germany, Norway, Netherlands, France, Lesotho, Uganda, Benin and Botswana.
The past 13 years have allowed Muholi’s visual activism to develop its own path and find wide-reaching success, and yet its milestones have been countered by the flaws that continue to exist in our society. HIV/AIDS, mental health problems and various chronic illnesses have claimed the lives of six participants since their first portraits were captured for Faces and Phases. This loss highlights the inequalities that persist in South Africa, often preventing ‘ordinary’ citizens from accessing basic quality healthcare. It painfully demonstrates that not everyone can claim their full constitutional rights in a country that prides itself on having one of the best constitutions in the world.
The Faces and Phases series has been shown at the South African Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013), dOCUMENTA 13 (2012), and the 29th São Paulo Biennial (2010). Zanele Muholi: Faces and Phases 2006-14, published by Steidl and the Walther Collection, was shortlisted for the 2015 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize; a second volume is to be published in 2020. The series will form part of Muholi’s retrospective exhibition at Tate Modern, London from 29 April to 18 October 2020.
See this fascinating exhibition at Stevenson Gallery, 46 7th Avenue, Parktown North, Johannesburg, until 30 August. Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, Saturday 10am to 1pm