Zanele Muholiís Faces and Phases is a series of portraits of black lesbian women, which in their frank and disarming manner unravel stereotypical assumptions about dress and gender. Describing the project as Ďa journey of visual activismí to ensure black lesbian visibility, she writes:
Individuals in this series of photographs hold different positions and play many different roles within the black lesbian community: soccer player, actress, scholar, cultural activist, lawyer, dancer, filmmaker, human rights/gender activist. However, each time we are represented by outsiders, we are merely seen as victims of rape and homophobia. Our lives are always sensationalised, rarely understood. This is the reason for Ďphasesí: our lives are not just what makes the newspapers headlines every time one of us is attacked. We go through many stages, we express many identities, which unfold in parallel in our existence.
Muholi showed photographs of black lesbian couples, another ongoing series, at Michael Stevenson in June/July 2007. Most of these images, which range from the intimacy of the bedroom through to public displays of commitment, are so quiet in their stance that it can easily be forgotten how unprecedented they are in South Africa and Africa. She also continues to photograph black gay boys celebrating their sexuality, often in very public and flamboyant gestures.
Seven of Muholiís portraits of black lesbians are included in the 100th Camera Austria issue and accompanying exhibition of work from the Market Photo Workshop. She is currently studying in Toronto.
© 2007 Michael Stevenson. All rights reserved.