By Biennale of Sydney
22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN
Sindile II, Room 206 Fjord Hotel, Berlin (2017) by Zanele MuholiBiennale of Sydney
About the artist
Born in Durban, South Africa
Lives and works in Durban and Johannesburg, South Africa
Zabantu I, Boston Installation ImageBiennale of Sydney
"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 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."
– Zanele Muholi
For the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, visual activist and photographer Zanele Muholi presents three bodies of work that look at the politics of race, gender and sexuality:
Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness features self-portraits taken in the many countries and cities Muholi has visited across the world.
Faces and Phases is a commemoration and celebration of black lesbians, Transgender individuals and gender non-conforming people from South Africa and beyond.
Brave Beauties is an ongoing series featuring Transwomen that acknowledges the radical transformation of South African society, even though many shadows remain, especially in terms of crimes against the LGBTQI community.
Experimenting with different characters and archetypes in these photos, Muholi portrays themself in high contrast to ensure the black face and its details become the focal point, "forcing the viewer to question their desire to gaze at images of my black figure".
Navigate through the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia galleries and explore the works of Zanele Muholi.
Nomalandi Wenda, Parktown Nomalandi Wenda, Parktown (2016) by Zanele MuholiBiennale of Sydney
Listen to the artist speak of their work and the community to which they belong in this MCA artist talk.
Somnyama Ngonyama series, 2015–18, wallpaper
Brave Beauties Selection, 2019, wallpaper
Faces and Phases Selection, 2006–18, silver gelatin photographs; edition of 8 + 2AP
Presentation at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney was made possible with generous assistance from the Sherman Foundation. Public programming relating to this project was made possible with generous support from the Naomi Milgrom Foundation. Courtesy the artist; Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa; and Yancey Richardson, New York