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Zanele Muholi: Faces and Phases 2006-2014
Text by Zanele Muholi, Gabeba Baderoon.
In Faces and Phases, Zanele Muholi embarks on a journey of "visual activism" to ensure black queer and transgender visibility. Despite South Africa's progressive Constitution and 20 years of democracy, black lesbians and transgender men remain the targets of brutal hate crimes and so-called corrective rapes. Taken over the past eight years, the more than 250 portraits in this book, accompanied by moving testimonies, present a compelling statement about the lives and struggles of these individuals. They also comprise an unprecedented and invaluable archive: marking, mapping and preserving an often invisible community for posterity.
"Benedicta Sekoati, Duduza, Johannesburg" (2013) is reproduced from Zanele Muholi: Faces and Phases 2006-2014
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
L'Oeil de la Photographie
First exhibited in 2013, Faces and Phases 2006-2014 is a portrait series of South African lesbians, targets of discrimination and hate crimes, despite twenty years of democracy. This project, published as a book last September, can be seen as a kind of "visual activism." It was started in 2006 by Zanele Muholi, who was moved by the loss of two young friends to HIV. (One had also been the victim of several assaults.) Muholi hopes to help black South African lesbians be more represented, and enrich the nascent visual history of a community which has, she says, been long ignored not only by the country's media, but also by the gay rights movement that began in the 1990s. Taken over the course of eight years, these 250 portraits, each more poignant than the last and accompanied by moving testimonies, are a convincing statement of the life and struggle of the subjects. Because Muholi herself is a part of this community, her work is inseparable from her own history. Therein lies the power of her photographs: she displays a sensitivity with the subject which only an "insider" could possess.
In 2006, Muholi began her Faces and Phases project, an ambitious series of bold, undeniably powerful portraits of lesbians made against plain or patterned backgrounds--now numbering around three hundred--and often exhibited in tightly arranged grids. Faces and Phases is the subject of an extensive book, published by Steidl last fall, that forms a monumental chapter in Muholi’s mission to remedy black queer invisibility.
New York Magazine
A collection of portraits, poems, and personal essays, Faces and Phases provides a sobering testament to the suffering and strength of its subjects. “I think it’s the first book of its kind in Africa that features black lesbians in a positive way,” Muholi told the Cut.
STATUS: Out of stock indefinitely.
FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 5/19/2015
South African photographer Zanele Muholi's show, Isibonelo/Evidence, currently on view at the Brooklyn Museum, has generated remarkable attention in the press—with reviews in the New York Times and the New Yorker just last week. It is an important contribution to queer and transgender activism, and undoubtably one of the top photography shows of the year. We are proud to recommend Muholi's most recent monograph, Faces and Phases 2006-2014, published by Steidl. Below are a few of the 250 portraits of black lesbians and transgender men that are reproduced in the book.
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FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 6/21/2016
In her extraordinary collection of portraits of black queer and transgender South Africans, photographer Zanele Muholi writes, "When I started capturing Faces and Phases eight years ago, I did not anticipate that the project would involve much more than documenting my community… What was initially a visual project became the creation of an unprecedented archive of photographs for my community and our country. I wanted to fill a gap in South Africa's visual history that, even 10 years after the fall of apartheid, wholly excluded our very existence. However, as I began to photograph friends, comrades, neighbors, the lovers of lovers, I became curious. I asked questions and looked into the eyes of black lesbian mothers, sisters, daughters and sons, wives and husbands. I was invited into their lives and I learned of their individual joys, hopes, longings, scars, suffering and endless love." Featured image is "Bathandwa Mosho, Braamfontein, Johannesburg" (2010). continue to blog