EYE CANDY

Zanele Muholi Wants Their Stunning Self-Portraits to Teach You How to “Fight Back”

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Zanele Muholi

Zanele Muholi prefers not to be known as an artist; instead, the South African photographer, who was born in Umlazi at the height of apartheid, identifies as a “visual activist.” A quick look at their résumé in advocating queer media makes it easy to understand why, though it’s also nearly impossible to not admire the artistry in their latest series of black-and-white self-portraits, which Aperture published nearly 100 of today in a long-awaited monograph. Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness is a response to racism past and present, as well as a history lesson and even a guide book of sorts, for using “artistic tools such as cameras as weapons to fight back.” For Muholi, that fight has long centered around proper representation of queerness and race, and there’s no better testament to their experience in doing so that, after spending more than a decade taking portraits of queer South Africans, they’ve now managed to pack all that into just one subject: themselves. See for yourself with a look inside the book, here.

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Photograph from Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness (Aperture, 2018). © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York

Kodwa I, Amsterdam, (2017). Self portrait by Zanele Muholi.

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Photograph from Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness (Aperture, 2018). © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York

Zithulele, Worcester, South Africa, (2016). Self portrait by Zanele Muholi.

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Photograph from Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness (Aperture, 2018). © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York

Phindile I, Paris, (2014). Self portrait by Zanele Muholi.

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Photograph from Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness (Aperture, 2018). © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York

Bhekezakhe, Parktown, Johannesburg , (2016). Self portrait by Zanele Muholi.

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Photograph from Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness (Aperture, 2018). © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York

Senzekile II, Cincinnati, (2016). Self portrait by Zanele Muholi.

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Photograph from Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness (Aperture, 2018). © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York

Ntozakhe II, Parktown, Johannesburg, (2016). Self portrait by Zanele Muholi.

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Photograph from Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness (Aperture, 2018). © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York

ZaKi, Kyoto, (2017). Self portrait by Zanele Muholi.

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Photograph from Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness (Aperture, 2018). © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York

Somnyama IV, Oslo, (2015). Self portrait by Zanele Muholi.

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Photograph from Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness (Aperture, 2018). © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York

Bester I, Mayotte, (2015). Self portrait by Zanele Muholi.

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Photograph from Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness (Aperture, 2018). © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York

Faniswa, Seapoint, Cape Town, (2016). Self portrait by Zanele Muholi.

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Photograph from Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness (Aperture, 2018). © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York

ZaKi, Kyoto, (2017). Self portrait by Zanele Muholi.