Zanele Muholi’s adorned hairstyle, powerful gaze, and darkened skin stand out in Sifikile, Nuoro, Italy—a self- portrait from the artist’s series Somnyama Ngonyama (Hail the Dark Lioness). The series began as a way for Muholi to process feelings about their own encounters with racism. Often taken while traveling, the portraits feature everyday items that reference specific events in their life or South Africa’s political history, such as safety pins, tape, and—as seen here—scissors.
Darkening their skin, Muholi calls attention to the fact that, in their words, "the black body itself is the material. The black body that is ever scrutinised and violated and undermined." Yet they meet the viewer with a powerful gaze, asserting their agency and autonomy in a critical response to heteronormative, patriarchal, and White- supremacist constructions of Black queer bodies.
From the 2022 exhibition Embodied: Artist as Medium, curated by Isadora Italia, Campus Engagement Manager
PORT 8, Brazilian Portraits, Carlos Minchillo, Winter 2020
WGSS 10.01, Sex, Gender and Society, Douglas Moody, Winter 2021
First Year Student Enrichment Program, Francine A'Ness, Summer 2021
First Year Student Enrichment Program, Doug Moody, Summer 2021
THEA 10.64/AAAS 54.05/WGSS 66.15, Feminist and Queer Africa on Stage and Screen, Laura Edmondson, Winter 2022
GEOG 72.01/AAAS 67.50/WGSS 66.09, Black Consciousness Black Feminism, Abby Neely, Spring 2022
WGSS 16.01, Contemporary Issues in Feminism, Mingwei Huang, Spring 2021
Writing Program 5.25, Photographic Representations, Amanda Wetsel, Winter 2023
Writing Program 5.24, Photographic Representations, Amanda Wetsel, Winter 2023
Humanities 2.01, The Modern Labyrinth, Lucas Hollister, Petra McGillen, Andrea Tarnowski, Laura Edmondson, Winter 2023
Embodied: Artist as Medium, Isadora Italia, MALS Class of 2022, Sol LeWitt Wall, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, October 1–December 17, 2022.
The artist; Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, New York; sold to present collection, 2018.
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