STEVENSON is pleased to present Of Love & Loss, a solo exhibition by visual activist and photographer Zanele Muholi. The opening coincides with the presentation of a prestigious Prince Claus Award to Muholi in Johannesburg.
In times of increasingly homophobic legislation enacted by African countries and in a climate of intolerance towards homosexuals in the Western world, South Africa distinguishes itself with a Constitution that recognises same-sex marriages; yet the black LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) community is plagued by hate crimes. Black lesbians are particularly vulnerable and are regularly victims of brutal murders and 'curatives rapes' at the hand of neighbours or 'friends'.
In 2013 Muholi has been documenting weddings and funerals in the black LGBTI community in South Africa, joyful and painful events that often seem to go hand in hand. The show features photographs, video works and an installation highlighting how manifestations of sorrow and celebration bear similarities and are occasions to underline the need for a safe space to express individual identities.
As Muholi writes:
Ayanda Magoloza and Nhlanhla Moremi's wedding in Katlehong took place four months after Duduzile Zozo was murdered in Thokoza. Promise Meyer and Gift Sammone's wedding in Daveyton took place on 22 December in Daveyton, 15 days after Maleshwane Radebe was buried in Ratanda. Six months earlier, Ziningi and Delisile Ndlela were married in Chesterville, Durban. Many in the area attended the ceremony, blessed the newlywed couple and prayed for them and their children. We long for such blessings as we continue to read about the trials and tribulations that LGBTI persons experience in their churches, where homosexuality is persecuted. In 2014, when South African democracy celebrates its 20 years, it seems more important than ever to raise again our voice against hate crimes and discriminations made towards the LGBTI community.
The exhibition includes also a series of autobiographical images, intimate portraits of Muholi and her partner taken during their travels, a tender counterpoint to the tension still generated in South Africa today by same-sex and interracial relationships.
Muholi was born in Umlazi, Durban, in 1972, and lives in Johannesburg. In 2013 she was the recipient of the Fine Prize for an emerging artist at the Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Also in 2013, she was made Honorary Professor of the University of the Arts/Hochschule für Künste Bremen; she won the Index on Censorship - Freedom of Expression art award in London and was named as one of Foreign Policy's Global Thinkers of 2013. Her Faces and Phases series was included on the South African Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale, Imaginary Fact: South African art and the archive (2013), on Documenta 13 in 2012, and on the 29th São Paulo Biennale in 2010. Her work is currently on view at Wits Art Museum in Johannesburg as part of Queer and Trans Art-iculations, a joint exhibition with Gabrielle Le Roux (until 30 March); she has solo exhibitions at the Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA (until 27 April) and Wentrup Gallery, Berlin (till 28 February), and an upcoming show at the Schwules Museum, Berlin (21 March to 9 June).
The exhibition opens on Friday 14 February, from 7.30 to 9.30pm, and runs until 4 April 2014.
The gallery is open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and Saturday 10am to 1pm.