Tag Archives: LGBT art

Zanele Muholi : LGBT Faces from South Africa

Laurie says:

Muholi’s powerful portraits of LGBT people in her community is stunning art and makes the invisible visible to us.  Her work gives us a sense of the reality of who the people in her portraits are, as they look at us. She is referred to as a visual activist and that certainly expresses itself in her work. We are looking at vivid powerful images of people she cares deeply about. I know that part of my deep response to her work is that I am also, in my way, a portrait artist and a visual activist.


Collen Mfazwe – August House, Johannesburg

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



Charmain Carrol – Parktown, Johannesburg

Quotes below are from Erica Schwiegershausen’s article in NY Magazine:

For the past eight years, South African photographer and visual activist Zanele Muholi has taken portraits of queer and transgender individuals in her community. Her project began in 2006, when she first photographed her friend and colleague Busisiwe Sigasa, a poet and activist who was suffering from AIDS she’d contracted from a “corrective rape” — which remains a brutal and prevalent hate crime in South Africa. Eight months later, Sigasa died. She was 25.

“I’ve lost friends, and I wanted to remember my friends as beautiful as they were when I interacted with them,” Muholi told the Cut. After Sigasa’s death, she continued photographing LGBTI friends, colleagues, and acquaintances living in and around Johannesburg and Cape Town.  The resulting collection — which was first exhibited at the Yancey Richardson Gallery in 2013 — now includes more than 250 portraits, which comprise her latest book, Faces and Phases: 2006–2014.


Lebo Ntladi – NewTown, Johannesburg

In a country where LGBTI individuals remain frequent targets of hate crimes and violence, Muholi’s work aims to increase visibility of gay and transgender experiences there. “I wanted to fill a gap in South Africa’s visual history that, even ten years after the fall of Apartheid, wholly excluded our very existence,” she writes in the book’s introduction. 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.

“My photography is therapy to me,” Muholi writes. “I want to project publicly, without shame, that we are bold, black, beautiful/handsome, proud individuals. It heals me to know that I am paving the way for others who, in wanting to come out, are able to look at the photographs, read the biographies, and understand that they are not alone.”

What she said – look at the slide show. See them all.

Leslie Feinberg: Art in the Teeth of All

Laurie says:

I have tremendous admiration for someone who creates art in spite of everything. And as an artist, especially if they must change their art to adapt to the confines of physical limitations. These photographs from the Screened-In Series were made by Leslie Feinberg, the transgender warrior who died last week.

We posted about Feinberg’s work and life here.

This post is about the art ze created in her serious illness. Ze wrote about it in Casualty of an Undeclared War.

She wrote about the work on the Flicker Series page.

These are the first in a series of photographs, many of which are from my vantage point from behind the screen and windows of my apartment in the Hawley-Green neighborhood of Syracuse, where I live with my spouse Minnie Bruce Pratt. [Syracuse is in New York State, northeast United States].

Illness keeps me home, much of the time in a darkened room. Dawn, dusk and dark are the least painful times for me to make photographs.

Winter Scene

I first made photos when I became more disabled. See my flickr profile for my statement about when and why I began making photo art.

I decided right away that I wasn’t going to “take” pictures, I was going to make them. When I could get outside, I would ask permission before making a photo–from loved ones and strangers–and then show them the photo and delete it if they didn’t like it for any reason.

But I have become increasingly confined by illness to home. I can’t ask permission.

So I decided not to use what photographers call “good glass” or to use a telescopic lens. I’ve only used a palm size digital camera for this series.

feinberg 3
Orange Porch

And I’ve paid conscious attention to distance, angle, composition, time of day, shadow, blur, manipulation of pixels and other techniques to protect the anonymity of my neighbors.

Alone and with help I have begun posting photos daily, or weekly, to this series. These photographs are my gifts to you for your personal use. All of my photographs are under Creative Commons copyright: attribution/source location, no derivative use, no commercial use.

–Leslie Feinberg
Aug. 26, 2011
Snow Scene

There are many ways to tell a story against the odds.