Mellisa Mbambo, Durban, KwaZulu Natal

Zanele Muholi2020

Biennale of Sydney

Biennale of Sydney
Sydney, Australia

"I am producing this photographic document to encourage people to be brave enough to occupy space, brave enough to create without fear of being vilified ... To teach people about our history, to re-think what history is all about, to re-claim it for ourselves, to encourage people to use artistic tools such as cameras as weapons to fight back …forcing the viewer to question their desire to gaze at images of my black figure”

Brave Beauties is an ongoing series featuring Transwomen. It was conceptualised and brought to life in 2014, the year of South Africa’s 20th anniversary of democracy. The series acknowledges the radical transformation of South African society although many shadows remain, especially in terms of crimes against the LGBTIQI+ community. Many of the participants in the series have won community-based beauty pageants. These pageants are a way of creating awareness of the histories and experiences of LGBTQI+ communities through cultural activities, including music and dance performances. The participants in Brave Beauties are from different parts of South Africa, and their portraits were taken mainly in Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.


  • Title: Mellisa Mbambo, Durban, KwaZulu Natal
  • Creator: Zanele Muholi
  • Date Created: 2020
  • Location Created: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
  • Physical Dimensions: 200 x 132 cm
  • Provenance: Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from the Sherman Foundation, and in partnership with PHOTO 2020. Public programming relating to this project was made possible with generous support from the Naomi Milgrom Foundation. Courtesy the artist; Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg; and Yancey Richardson, New York. Copyright © Zanele Muholi.
  • Type: photography
  • Rights: Biennale of Sydney
  • Medium: wallpaper
  • Edition: 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020): NIRIN

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