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Zanele Muholi – Somnyama Ngonyama Exhibition in Johannesburg

STEVENSON is pleased to present Zanele Muholi’s new exhibition of photographs.

In contrast to her life-long project of documenting members of her community, one in which she normally has the privilege of witnessing her subjects presentation of themselves according to their own self-image, with this new work she turns her camera on herself.

This exhibition will be a presentation of new self-portraits of Zanele Muholi. Experimenting with different characters, Muholi portrays herself in a highly stylised and performative language that references the history of black and white fashion photography. During an exchange with Agustina Zegers of DIS Magazine (12 May 2015), on whether photography can help personal development in stages of transformation, Muholi states:

“There are parts of us that we don’t want to confront. There’s a me that I might not be connected with, and there comes a point where self-loving is key. There are people who just don’t see how images could help them heal. I treat photography as a way of healing because I have to love myself. Nobody will do that job for me. There are insecurities that we deal with, moments where I look at the image of myself and ask myself “who is this?” And then there are moments where I love myself. Nobody’s getting paid to love me so, yeah, I think photography could really help people to deal with themselves”.

Taken in different locations whilst travelling in South Africa, America and Europe, Muholi describes this process as one of self-discovery, and so through this series we get to see and experience the many ways she imagines herself.

Zanele Muholi has a solo exhibition, Isibonelo/Evidence, Brooklyn Museum (1 May to 8 November 2015) and Zanele Muholi: Vukani/Rise, Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool (18 September – 29 November 2015).

Current group exhibitions included: Storylines: Contemporary Art, Guggenheim, New York (5 June – 9 September 2015); Deutsche Börse Photography Prize exhibition, Museum of Modern Art, Frankfurt (20 June – 20 September); History, Art, Architecture and Design: 80s to Today, Pompidou Centre, Paris; The Order of Things, The Walther Collection, Ulm, Germany (17 May – 10 October 2015); Homosexuality_ies, Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin (26 June – 1 December 2015) and Beadwork, Art and the Body: Dilo Tše Dintši/Abundance at Wits Art Museum (29 July – 11 October 2015).

She has won numerous awards including the Fine Prize for an emerging artist at the 2013 Carnegie International; a Prince Claus Award (2013); the Index on Censorship – Freedom of Expression art award (2013); and the Casa Africa award for best female photographer and a Fondation Blachère award at Les Rencontres de Bamako biennial of African photography (2009). Her Faces and Phases series has shown at, among others, Documenta 13; the South African Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale; and the 29th São Paulo Biennale. She was shortlisted for the 2015 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize for her publication Faces and Phases: 2006-14 (Steidl/The Walther Collection). Muholi is an Honorary Professor of the University of the Arts, Bremen.

The exhibition opens on Thursday 19 November, from 6-8pm.

The gallery is open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and Saturday 10am to 1pm.

The gallery will be closed from 20 December 2015 to 3 January 2016.