Inkjet print on cotton fibre-based paper, Baryta coated.
Zanele Muholi is a Johannesburg-based artist and self-proclaimed visual activist. Muholi studied photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Newtown, Johannesburg and completed their Masters in Fine Arts from Ryerson University in Toronto in 2009. They are one of the most celebrated photographers working today, and have received numerous honours and awards, including an honorary professorship from the University of the Arts Bremen in Germany, and a knighthood from the French Embassy.
Zanele Muholi explores what it means to be black and queer in contemporary South Africa by documenting members of these marginalized communities through portraiture. Their work not only confronts how the viewer sees representations of blackness, the female body, and queer sexuality but also showcases the political issues and violence surrounding these topics.
Isililo XX exemplifies Muholi’s recent turn towards self-portraiture as a means of using self-representation to defiantly critique the viewer’s gaze, while also delving into specific events in South Africa’s political history. This stream of Muholi’s work began with the acclaimed 2015 exhibition ‘Somnyama Ngonyama’ (meaning ‘Hail, the Dark Lioness’), which is still touring internationally as of 2021.