O P E N
S T O R A G E
b. 1972, South Africa
Lena, Mercure Hotel, London, 2018
Gelatin Silver Print
31.5 x 22.25 in.
Edition 7 of 8
Collection of The Bass
Purchased through the John and Johanna Bass Acquisition Fund
Zanele Muholi is a self-proclaimed visual activist whose photography, video, and installation works are a response to the continuing discrimination and violence faced by the LGBTI community in South Africa even after the 1996 Constitution promoting equality. Muholi’s mission in their work is “to rewrite 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.”
In their recent ongoing series, Somnyama Ngonyama (Hail the Dark Lioness), Muholi turns the camera on themself, becoming both participant and the image-maker, experimenting with different characters in reference to specific events in South Africa’s political history. Utilizing strikingly symbolic poses and props, Muholi reflects upon themes of labor, racism, and sexual politics, while the exaggeration of skin tone is used to reclaim their blackness, challenging the oppressive standards people of color face in today’s popular culture.
“The series touches on beauty, relates to historical incidents, giving affirmation to those doubting – whenever they speak to themselves, when they look in the mirror – to say, ‘You are worthy, you count, nobody has the right to undermine you because of your race, because of your gender expression, because of your sexuality, because of all that you are.’” - Zanele Muholi, New York Times: Paying Homage to the History of Black Women.