I love that even though I now spend my summers in Provence in an adorable house in the foothills of the Luberon I don’t have far to go to see good African art. The Photography Festival at Arles – Les Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie d’Arles – is an hour away and this year South African artist and activist Zanele Muholi curated with artist Walead Beshty the exhibition Systemically open?New Forms of Production of the Contemporary Image, which among other artists showed her latest body of work Somnyama Ngonyama (Hail, the Dark Lioness).
I just loved that hard won self-assurance
I encountered Muholi’s work in 2009 in South Africa and met her in Bamako during the Rencontres de Bamako. She was just starting to get known internationally for her work on the LBGTI community. Already an activist she was speaking up for this community that was greatly suffering from hate crimes in South Africa and beyond. At the time she was getting attention for a body of work, the Miss D’vine series. She photographed black queens and drag artists set in an “African” landscape.
“The photos examine how gender and queer identities and bodies are shaped by – but also resist, through their very existence – dominant notions of what it means to be black and feminine”. (Zanele Muholi, 2009). [Read more…]