© Zanele Muholi, courtesy of the artist, Stevenson Cape Town / Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson, New York
Begun in 2014, "Brave Beauties" is a series of portraits depicting trans women in South Africa, and as such represents an overt challenge to a culture that continues to violently discriminate against the LGBTQI community. Zanele Muholi creates celebratory photographs of empowered individuals who assert their identities through their confident poses, taking ownership of the spaces they inhabit.
Turning the camera on herself for the "Somnyama Ngonyama" series, Muholi explores the concepts of self-representation and self-definition by experimenting with different characters and archetypes. The photographs, taken in various cities throughout Europe, the U.S., Asia, and Africa, use ad hoc settings and everyday objects as props to reference South African political history, contemporary existence, and events in the artist’s personal life.
In both bodies of work, Muholi uses portraiture as a form of exposure to disrupt the dominant images of black women in the media today and to bear witness to both the brutality and the joy experienced by black, queer, lesbian, and transgender individuals in South Africa.
This is the artist’s third exhibition with the Yancey Richardson gallery in New York. It comprises two bodies of work, "Brave Beauties," on display in NYC for the first time, and "Somnyama Ngonyama" ("Hail, the Dark Lioness").
November 2–December 9
525 W. 22nd St., New York City
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