Ntombi (Young girl) from The Self Portrait Project (2007/2013)

Nomusa Makhubu, South African, born 1984



Archival digital print on 35 gsm Hanhnemule cotton photo museum paper


Image: 20 1/16 × 13 3/8 in. (51 × 34 cm)

Sheet: 23 7/16 × 16 9/16 in. (59.5 × 42 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Purchased through the Julia L. Whittier Fund



Place Made: South Africa, Southern Africa, Africa


21st century

Object Name


Research Area



Not on view


Signed, lower left, in graphite: NOMUSA MAKHUBU; inscribed, lower center, in graphite: NTOMBI (2007/2013); inscribed, lower right, in graphite: AP


Nomusa Makhubu developed her Self-Portrait series within a body of work that examines representations of African women in colonial photography from 1870 to 1920. In Self-Portrait, Makhubu projects archival images onto her body, which recedes into the background, becoming integrated with the projected image. Interrogating the "documentary" aspect of photography, the artist provides a haunting glimpse into colonial images that represented African bodies as social documents about the "native" and advanced scientific racism by reducing them to phenotypes. Their original titles, such as Comparison I, allowed the images to "masquerade as truthful scientific categories." By retitling them in Zulu, Makhubu questions their "contextual ‘truthfulness.’ "Makhubu explains: "I wanted to explore ways in which it might be possible to subvert that hierarchy and re-write the political implications in the photograph. . . . The women in the photographs that I selected had come to represent the collectivities of women and men who have been subjected to the dehumanizing scientific gaze."

From the 2020 exhibition Reconstitution, curated by Jessica Hong, Associate Curator of Global Contemporary Art

Course History

SART 17.9, The Photographer as Activist: Making Art Inspired by the Hood Museum's Collection, Virginia Beahan, Winter 2015

Exhibition History

Reconstitution, Dorothy and Churchill P. Lathrop Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 2, 2020 - June 20, 2021.

Inventory: New Works and Conversations around African Art, Friends Gallery/Owen Robertson Cheatham Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 16-March 13, 2016.


Erdmann Contemporary, Cape Town, South Africa; sold to present collection, 2014.

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