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Zanele Muholi (South African, b. 1972). Faces and Phases installed at dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany, 2012. (Photo: © Anders Sune Berg)


                        
                        Zanele Muholi (South African, b. 1972). Faces and Phases installed at dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany, 2012. (Photo: © Anders Sune Berg)

Zanele Muholi (South African, b. 1972). Faces and Phases installed at dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany, 2012. (Photo: © Anders Sune Berg)

<p>Zanele Muholi (South African, born 1972). <em>Ayanda & Nhlanhla Moremi’s wedding I. Kwanele Park, Katlehong, 9 November 2013</em>, 2013. Chromogenic photograph, 10<sup>7</sup>⁄<sub>16</sub> x 14<sup>9</sup>⁄<sub>16</sub> in. (26.5 × 37 cm), framed. © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York</p>

Zanele Muholi (South African, born 1972). Ayanda & Nhlanhla Moremi’s wedding I. Kwanele Park, Katlehong, 9 November 2013, 2013. Chromogenic photograph, 10716 x 14916 in. (26.5 × 37 cm), framed. © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York

<p>Zanele Muholi (South African, born 1972). <em>Abakhaphi at Promise & Gift’s wedding II. Daveyton, 2013</em>, 2013. Chromogenic photograph, 24<sup>7</sup>⁄<sub>16</sub> x 17<sup>3</sup>⁄<sub>4</sub> in. (62 × 45 cm), framed. © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York</p>

Zanele Muholi (South African, born 1972). Abakhaphi at Promise & Gift’s wedding II. Daveyton, 2013, 2013. Chromogenic photograph, 24716 x 1734 in. (62 × 45 cm), framed. © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York

<p>Zanele Muholi (South African, born 1972). <em>Ayanda & Nhlanhla Moremi’s wedding III. Kwanele South, Katlehong, 9 November 2013</em>, 2013. Chromogenic photograph, 18<sup>11</sup>⁄<sub>16</sub> x 14 in. (47.5 × 35.5 cm), framed. © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York</p>

Zanele Muholi (South African, born 1972). Ayanda & Nhlanhla Moremi’s wedding III. Kwanele South, Katlehong, 9 November 2013, 2013. Chromogenic photograph, 181116 x 14 in. (47.5 × 35.5 cm), framed. © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York

Begun in 2013, the Weddings series captures in photographs and video the joyful same-sex unions of Muholi’s friends. In contrast to the formal portraits of Faces and Phases, these photographs are a riot of bright colors and spontaneous interactions. Shuttling from tightly framed details of decor and dress to long lineups of gender-fluid bridal parties, they suggest a playful yet enthusiastic embrace of wedding customs by couples eager to proclaim the legitimacy of their love.

<p>Zanele Muholi (South African, born 1972). <em>Xana Nyilenda, Newtown, Johannesburg, 2011</em>, 2011. Gelatin silver photograph, 34 × 24 in. (86.5 × 60.5 cm). © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York</p>

Zanele Muholi (South African, born 1972). Xana Nyilenda, Newtown, Johannesburg, 2011, 2011. Gelatin silver photograph, 34 × 24 in. (86.5 × 60.5 cm). © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York

<p>Zanele Muholi (South African, born 1972). <em>Zanele Muholi, Vredehoek, Cape Town, 2011</em>, 2011. Gelatin silver photograph, 34 × 24 in. (86.5 × 60.5 cm). © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York</p>

Zanele Muholi (South African, born 1972). Zanele Muholi, Vredehoek, Cape Town, 2011, 2011. Gelatin silver photograph, 34 × 24 in. (86.5 × 60.5 cm). © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York

<p>Zanele Muholi (South African, born 1972). <em>Ayanda Mqakayi, Nyanga East, Cape Town, 2011</em>, 2011. Gelatin silver photograph, 34 × 24 in. (86.5 × 60.5 cm). © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York</p>

Zanele Muholi (South African, born 1972). Ayanda Mqakayi, Nyanga East, Cape Town, 2011, 2011. Gelatin silver photograph, 34 × 24 in. (86.5 × 60.5 cm). © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York

<p>Zanele Muholi (South African, born 1972). <em>Lumka Stemela, Nyanga East, Cape Town, 2011</em>, 2011. Gelatin silver photograph, 34 × 24 in. (86.5 × 60.5 cm). © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York</p>

Zanele Muholi (South African, born 1972). Lumka Stemela, Nyanga East, Cape Town, 2011, 2011. Gelatin silver photograph, 34 × 24 in. (86.5 × 60.5 cm). © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York

<p>Zanele Muholi (South African, born 1972). <em>Collen Mfazwe, August House, Johannesburg, 2012</em>, 2012. Gelatin silver photograph, 34 × 24 in. (86.5 × 60.5 cm). © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York</p>

Zanele Muholi (South African, born 1972). Collen Mfazwe, August House, Johannesburg, 2012, 2012. Gelatin silver photograph, 34 × 24 in. (86.5 × 60.5 cm). © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York

<p>Zanele Muholi (South African, born 1972). <em>Lithakazi Nomngcongo, Vredehoek, Cape Town, 2012</em>, 2012. Gelatin silver photograph, 34 × 24 in. (86.5 × 60.5 cm). © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York</p>

Zanele Muholi (South African, born 1972). Lithakazi Nomngcongo, Vredehoek, Cape Town, 2012, 2012. Gelatin silver photograph, 34 × 24 in. (86.5 × 60.5 cm). © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York

Muholi’s Faces and Phases project invites engagement with the distinctive presence of each sitter while simultaneously offering a view of an expansive community. Fighting a common misconception that homosexuality was imported to South Africa by white colonists, Muholi asserts the visibility of black lesbians as a group but also insists that its individual members are not reducible to a shared category of identification. Begun in the townships of South Africa in 2006, this ongoing series now includes more than 250 portraits from around the world.

Elizabeth A Sackler
                    Center for Feminist Art

Zanele Muholi: Isibonelo/Evidence

May 1–November 8, 2015

Zanele Muholi meshes her work in photography, video, and installation with human rights activism to create visibility for the black lesbian and transgender communities of South Africa. Zanele Muholi: Isibonelo/Evidence is the most comprehensive museum presentation to date of Muholi’s works and features several of the artist’s ongoing projects about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) communities, both in her home country and abroad.

The exhibition presents eighty-seven works created between 2007 and 2014, including Muholi’s Faces and Phases portrait series, which uses firsthand accounts to speak to the experience of living in a country that constitutionally protects the rights of LGBTI people but often fails to defend them from targeted violence. Also included is the new series Weddings and the video Being Scene, both of which focus on love, intimacy, and daily life within Muholi’s close-knit community.

Zanele Muholi: Isibonelo/Evidence is organized by Catherine J. Morris, Sackler Family Curator for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, with Eugenie Tsai, John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum.

Support for this exhibition is provided by the Antonia and Vladimer Kulaev Cultural Heritage Fund, Abigail E. Disney and Pierre N. Hauser, and Tracey, Phillip, and Enoch Riese.

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