Tag Archives: South Africa

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.

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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

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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.
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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.

Thanksgiving 2010

Laurie and Debbie say:

We keep having difficult years, and yet there are always important things to appreciate, be thankful for, and celebrate.

Last year at this time, a national health care bill had passed in the house and was being debated in the Senate. Now (for all its limitations) we have the first national health care law ever in the United States, and early provisions are in place and doing good. The most recent changes (as of September) include requiring insurers to provide health care to children with pre-existing conditions, requiring that customers have a chance to appeal denied claims to an independent reviewer, and allowing people with insurance to go to the nearest emergency room without being penalized by their health care company. There’s lots more at the link.

The next two are documented here, and we were tempted to include more from that site. Click the link on a day when you need encouragement.

In 1990, 42% of the world’s population lived on less than $1.25 (constant 2000 dollars, PPP “purchasing power parity”). In 2005, that number had fallen to 25%. The UN estimates that by 2020, only 10% of world citizens will live in absolute poverty. Of course, ten percent is ten percent too many, but 42% is a lot worse. This shows that all the effort and energy that has been poured into world poverty is having an effect.

Access to safe drinking water is also improving. The industrialized world has had nearly 100% access for decades, and the developing world is catching up: In 1970, only 30% of people in developing nations had access to safe water, 71% in 1990, 79% in 2000 and 84% in 2004. The UN estimates that by 2030, 98% of the world’s population will have access to potable water. Wow!

As our own Marlene blogged here some weeks ago, the Obama administration has been reassuringly transpositive overall. Just one example from her post: transpeople can now get passports in their identified gender whether or not they have had genital surgery.

Burmese Nobel Peace Prize winner and social justice activist Aung San Suu Kyi finally was let out of house arrest this month!

Everyone will tell you that the U.S. elections were a huge victory for conservatives, tea party types, and Republicans, but it’s not as true as it looks. Not only California, but just about all of the American west, including Nevada, Colorado, and Washington, rejected the short-sighted and often fraudulent claims of the right and elected or re-elected liberals and progressives. Even less noted is the fact that more than half of Tea Party-identified candidates lost their races.

In what was often not a good year for the environment, the Obama Administration kept its promises at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) talks. As a result, the ban on commercial whaling will stay in force.

Enormous advances are being made in the science of antimatter. CERN in Switzerland has trapped “a sizable amount” of antihydrogen. Scientists describe this as a key step in understanding why matter is the stuff of the universe and antimatter is so rare. Maybe not everyone agrees, but we really like it that this is a huge scientific discovery without any known practical applications.

Despite naysayers and warnings everywhere, South Africa hosted a wonderful soccer World Cup, which ran smoothly and brought delight to millions and victory to Germany.

And our very favorite TV director, David Simon (The Wire, Treme) won a MacArthur “Genius” Grant for his work.

Have a great holiday! We’ll be back early next week.