Zanele Muholi at the Stonewall Inn
53 Christopher Street
New York, NY 10014
South African photographer Zanele Muholi is best known for the portrait series Faces and Phases (2006–ongoing), an archive of members of her country’s black lesbian community, totaling over 250 black and white photographs and growing. Displaying images of “corrective rape” survivors, self-portraits effusing vulnerability, and photographs of women such as Busi Sigasa, a writer and poet who was murdered in a hate crime since posing for Muholi’s camera, is an understated protest against the stigma and violence that individuals within the LGBTQI community are often faced with. In 2012, twenty hard drives of images were stolen from the artist’s home, implying that the subject is still a highly charged one, even in metropolitan Cape Town.
For her Commission, she brings this project to life, assembling an interactive public installation of her #VisualActivism as a gift to the people of New York. The work is also a façade for social events and performances, which she will initiate to gather together Black LBTQI groups from various neighborhoods of New York City for communion and music. Faces and Phases was included in dOCUMENTA 13, and presented at the Brooklyn Museum and the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos. Her 2010 documentary Difficult Love has been screened at film festivals worldwide.
Image credit: Somnyama Ngonyama II, Oslo, 2015 © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York
Curated by RoseLee Goldberg, with Maaike Gouwenberg, Biennial Producer, Mellon Curatorial Fellow Lydia Brawner, and Job Piston, Special Projects Manager. Supported by the Ford Foundation, Yancey Richardson, the Performa Commissioning Fund and the Performa 17 South African Pavilion Committee.