In partnership with Autograph, the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art is proud to present the United States premiere of Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness. In this internationally acclaimed exhibition featuring more than 70 photographs, visual activist Zanele Muholi, whose whose pronouns are they, them, and their, uses their body as a canvas to confront the politics of race and representation in the visual archive. Zanele Muholi’s psychologically charged portraits are unapologetic in their directness as they explore different archetypes, personal and collective histories, contemporary politics, and global events.
Somnyama Ngonyama employs the conventions of classical painting, fashion photography, and the familiar tropes of ethnographic imagery to critically rearticulate contemporary identity politics. By increasing the contrast in the dark complexion of their skin, Zanele Muholi interrogates complex representations of beauty, pride, and desire. Gazing defiantly at the camera, Zanele Muholi challenges the viewer’s perceptions while firmly asserting their cultural identity on their own terms.