Somnyama Ngonyama is an ongoing project by photographer and activist Zanele Muholi. While her earlier projects have depicted members of the black LGBTI community of South Africa, “Somnyama Ngonyama” finds the artist turning the camera on herself. Self-portraiture is used as a tool of intimacy, serving as commentary on contemporary political and cultural issues that affect black people in Africa and its diaspora.
Zanele Muholi is a visual activist born in 1972 in Umlazi, Durban, and based in Johannesburg, South Africa. She co-founded the Forum for Empowerment of Women (FEW) in 2002, and in 2009 founded Inkanyiso (www. inkanyiso.org), a forum for queer and visual (activist) media. Dedicated to representing issues central to the black queer and trans communities in South Africa, she continues to facilitate photography workshops for young women in various townships. Muholi studied Advanced Photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Newtown, Johannesburg, and in 2009, completed an MFA in Documentary Media at Ryerson University, Toronto. She is an Honorary Professor at the University of the Arts/Hochschule für Künste Bremen. Muholi has won numerous awards including the ICP Infinity Award for Documentary and Photojournalism (2016); the Outstanding International Alumni Award from Ryerson University (2016); the Fine Prize for an emerging artist at the 2013 Carnegie International; a Prince Claus Award (2013); the Index on Censorship – Freedom of Expression art award (2013); and the Casa Africa award for best female photographer and a Fondation Blachère award at Les Rencontres de Bamako biennial of African photography (2009). Her Faces and Phases series has shown at, among others, Documenta 13; the South African Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale; and the 29th São Paulo Biennale. She was shortlisted for the 2015 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize for her Faces and Phases 2006 – 14 (Steidl/The Walther Collection). Muholi is currently included in the exhibition African Art against the State, on view at the Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts through August 2016.
New Forms for Contemporary Image Production
Curators : Walead Beshty, Elad Lassry, Zanele Muholi, Collier Schorr
From July 4th to September 25th, 2016
La Mécanique Générale, Parc des Ateliers