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Bhekisisa, Sakouli beach, Mayotte, from the series Somnyama Ngonyama

printed 2020


Zanele Muholi

South Africa

1972 –

No image
  • Details

    printed 2020
    Media category
    Materials used
    gelatin silver photograph
    52.0 x 100.0 cm
    Signature & date

    Signed l.l. corner Certificate of authenticity, black fibre-tipped pen "Zanele Muholi". Not dated.

    Purchased with funds provided by the Photography Collection Benefactors 2020
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Zanele Muholi
    Artist information
    Zanele Muholi

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Artist and activist Zanele Muholi sees their practice as a form of advocacy and resistance, channelling their portraiture and moving image work into a deep engagement with black queer and trans visual history in South Africa. They are acutely aware of the power of self-presentation and the potential political impact of portraiture. Muholi’s photographic work is a forceful critique of the racism that underscores photographic history as it pertains to the representation of Black people. Alert to the power imbalance that often defines the relationship between photographer and photographed, Muholi assertively returns the agency over the image to the subject. In the series Somnyama Ngonyama that subject is the artist themselves. The agency, in this instance, is theirs.

    Of this body of work, Muholi has said:
    Somnyama Ngonyama (meaning ‘Hail, the Dark Lioness’) is an unflinchingly personal approach I have taken as a visual activist to confronting the politics of race and pigment in the photographic archive. It is a statement of self-presentation through portraiture. The entire series also relates to the concept of MaID (‘My Identity’) or, read differently, ‘maid’, the quotidian and demeaning name given to all subservient black women in South Africa.
    Muholi 2017

Other works by Zanele Muholi