Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Africa - Creative Arts, Africa LGBTIQ, Photography, Queer Politics, South Africa

“Shedding light on sexuality and gender”

A review by Lerato Dumse of Zanele Muholi’s solo exhibition which opened in Joburg last Thursday.

Lerato is part of the Free Gender collective. Free Gender will be hosting the first lesbian conference in the township on the 5/6 August 2011. This is a wholly local initiative and is self-financed. They need your help to make their conference successful. We are not funded by any organization. We will be making history be part of that history by assisting the organization financially. See Below to support Free Gender

The opening of Zanele Muholi’s Inkanyiso exhibition pulled the crowed in Johannesburg, at the Stevenson gallery on Thursday 7 July 2011.Faces and Phases is about preserving the histories and showing the struggles faced by black lesbians, and Zanele has added 66 new portraits in the ongoing series.

Inkanyiso means light, and Muholi; a visual activist aims to shed light into the “viewer’s understanding of sexuality and gender”. Other works available during the exhibition is Beulahs (2007-10) and Transfigures (2010-11), as well as the award winning documentary Difficult Love (2010) showing in film festivals around the world. Tumi Nkopane 24 is on the series and says: “Zanele’s work is part of politics because these portraits fight discrimination”. Nkopane believes that people’s ignorance causes them to be intolerant against lesbians, “Faces and Phases can help break the Ice; by showing that we are part of society”. Now based in Cape Town, Muholi was born in Umlazi (Durban) in 1972. She studied photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Newtown, Johannesburg. Mbali Zulu says she wants to send a message that hate crime must end through photography, because people are lazy to read. The 22 year old thinks: “Zanele’s work makes a huge difference in our community; I love her work and hope she continues for future generations”. Addressing the crowed at the gallery; Zanele thanked everyone for their support, especially those who participated in the series. “Faces is also about the face-to-face confrontation between myself as a photographer/activist and the many lesbians, woman and transmen I have interacted with from different places”.23 year old Matshidiso Nofokeng is honored to be part of Faces and Phases as it represents her as a whole, she said. “I was not out; and I want people to know who I am, Zanele is giving young black lesbians an opportunity to express who they are”. Nofokeng met Muholi in 2007 “she helped me accept myself and be proud of my body” she concluded. Photographs from the series were shot in Gauteng, Cape Town, Mafikeng and Botswana.

To support Free Gender and the lesbian conference see here