Zanele Muholi on “Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness” at Seattle Art Museum
Video (3:44): queer feminist artist Zanele Muholi talks about her creative practice. The video is published by Seattle Art Museum, USA (2019).
Description of the video:
‘”The aim of this series is to undo racism in the media, in mainstream spaces.” – Zanele Muholi
Taken in Europe, Asia, North America, and Africa between 2014 and 2017, each of the 76 self-portraits in the Somnyama Ngonyama (Zulu for Hail the Dark Lioness) series is distinct and poses critical questions about social injustice, human rights, and contested representations of the black body. South African visual activist Zanele Muholi (b. 1972) combines classical portraiture, fashion photography, and ethnographic imagery to establish different archetypes and personae.
In this ongoing series, the portraits often rely on found materials, which become culturally loaded props. Scouring pads and latex gloves address themes of domestic servitude. Rubber tires, electrical cords, and cable ties reference forms of social brutality and capitalist exploitation. Collectively, the portraits evoke the plight of workers: maids, miners, and members of disenfranchised communities. The artist often gazes defiantly at the camera, challenging viewers while firmly asserting their cultural identity on their own terms. These self-reflective and psychologically charged portraits are unapologetic in their exploration of the constraints of history, ideologies, and contemporary realities.’
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