Zanele Muholi | Hail the Dark Lioness | Autograph ABP | 14 July – 28 October 2017

Zanele Muholi’s Somnyama Ngonyama: Hail The Dark Lioness recently opened at the Autograph ABP the South African artists first London show and I was delighted to see this impressive body of work which encompasses all the traits of a great up and coming photographic artist.

Bold doesn’t come close to describing a simple aesthetic which un-apologetically grabs you by the gut and demands that you pay attention to what is being conveyed.

There are no obvious subtleties, the entire body of work is stripped back to 6 basic elements: ultimate black, white, light, a woman, everyday items and a gaze you are challenged to hold. The 60+ compositions  are a stunning body of work which is both commanding and demanding. Commanding you to accept the simplicity that is the composition, its simple focused palate, its simple zen like compositions and its simple focused message:  Look, listen, I have something to say.  Demanding in that you register it as a new standard of self portraiture.

On closer inspection of the items Muholi chooses to crown, adorn, swaddle and bind her the dialogue expands into one of activism and commentary on gender, sexuality, environmental issues, freedom and power.

At Autograph, ABP, Rivington Street, Shoreditch, London, E2 until 28th October 2017.

“I’m reclaiming my blackness, which I feel is continuously performed by the privileged other. My reality is that I do not mimic being black; it is my skin, and the experience of being black is deeply entrenched in me. Just like our ancestors, we live as black people 365 days a year, and we should speak without fear.”  

Zanele Muholi


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