The Norval Foundation presents And then you see yourself: Zanele Muholi, an exhibition of the South African visual activist and photographer that includes work from the past twenty years to the present.
And then you see yourself: Zanele Muholi examines the artist’s lastest “Somnyama Ngonyama” series through the lens of their earlier works. Loosely chronological, it is a narrative about racial identity through self-portraiture unfolds over two decades.
The exhibition follows a path leading from intimate snapshots, betraying personal notions of identity, to visually refined portraits of a shapeshifting, mythologised subject located in the public imagination. It is a journey from the private domain into the public sphere.
The exhibition opens with a video entitled EyeMe (2012), a grid of staring eyes, which sets the tone for consideration of the nature of seeing and being seen. Intended as recognition of victims of violence, the work was made in the year of the Marikana massacre and other acts of brutality. It highlights the tension between personal vision, legislative witnessing and systemic blind spots.
Throughout the exhibition, there is a consideration, not just of Muholi’s identity, but of our own identities and the ways in which we construct them and change them based on who is looking. Muholi’s work as a visual activist advocates for the human rights of Queer and Black people, but it does so by confronting audiences with their own façade and their own gaze.
And then you see yourself: Zanele Muholi is curated by Owen Martin and Khanya Mashabela and
appears alongside Alt and Omega: Jackson Hlungwani and iiNyanga Zonyaka (The Lunar Songbook):
Venue: Norval Foundation, 4 Steenberg Rd, Tokai
Time: 2 Sep 2020 to 18 Jan 2021
Cost: R120 for one year access from the date of purchase.