Search for content, post, videos

Southern Guild : Zanele Muholi


Southern Guild in Los Angeles presents an exhibition of Zanele Muholi’s work.

Provocative and perceptive, in this presentation Zanele encourages their audience to question the world around them – wielding artwork that re-imagines self and re-envisions agency (What does it mean to exist in this time? How can individual and cultural trauma be recognized and transcended? In what ways can art serve as a catalyst for discussion of, education about, and advocacy for antiracism, gender expression and reproductive health?) In each portrait, they confront and celebrate their identification with Black and LGBTQIA communities in their native South Africa, empowering individuals from various geographies and generations to identify with and make space for presence, self-love, remembrance and healing.

The exhibition features Muholi’s recent additions to their ongoing self-portrait series Somnyama Ngonyama, alongside their newest work in bronze sculpture. Titled “Hail the Dark Lioness” in English, the photographs that comprise this body of work are a visual exploration of the Zulu term Somnyama, meaning Black, and Ngonyama, which is both the word for lion and their mother’s family name. These portraits are produced all around the world, where Muholi captures their form in complete solitude. Wrapped in cloaks made from hotel bed sheets, adorned with crowns made from clothesline pins, decorated with lipstick made from toothpaste and vaseline, these works serve as a simultaneous document and vision of self-embodiment – existing in and through the immediacy of the medium.

It’s with this consciousness that Zanele embarked on their sculptural works, creating visceral visualizations of their genitalia and reproductive organs. Existing in a nonbinary body, Muholi has experienced various conflicts in gynecological medicine and aims to expose the misinformation disseminated in South Africa’s Black and Trans communities, which contributes to the perpetuation of taboos around subjects of gender and sexual variance. After being diagnosed with uterine fibroids, the artist reflected on the intersecting influences of their inherited genealogy and Catholic upbringing – considering how they were undereducated about pre-existing conditions and criticizing religion’s condemnation of sexual pleasure and queer identity. Fabricated at a colossal scale, glistening bronze casts of their uterus and clitoris are juxtaposed with avatars of themselves in clerical robes, making quite a powerful statement.


Zanele Muholi
May 21 – July 13, 2024
Southern Guild
747 N Western Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90029

Create an account or log in to read more and see all pictures.

Install WebApp on iPhone
Install WebApp on Android