Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness
Photographs by Zanele Muholi
Interview and essay contribution by Renée Mussai. Contributions by Unoma Azuah, Cheryl Clarke, Fariba Derakhshani, Sophie Hackett, M. Neelika Jayawardane, Mapula Lehong, Sindiwe Magona, Napo Masheane, Hlonipha Mokoena, Jackie Mondi, Deborah Willis, and Christie van Zyl, among others
Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness includes one hundred self-portraits created by one of the most powerful visual activists of our time. In each of the images, Muholi drafts material props from her immediate environment in an effort to reflect her journey, explore her own image and possibilities as a black woman in today’s global society, and—most important—to speak emphatically in response to contemporary and historical racisms. As she states, “I am producing this photographic document to encourage people to be brave enough to occupy spaces, brave enough to create without fear of being vilified. . . . To teach people about our history, to re-think what history is all about, to re-claim it for ourselves, to encourage people to use artistic tools such as cameras as weapons to fight back.”
More than twenty curators, poets, and authors offer written contributions that draw out the layers of meaning and possible readings to accompany select images. Powerfully arresting, this collection is as much a manifesto of resistance as it is an autobiographical, artistic statement.