We recently visited Stevenson Gallery in Cape Town to view visual activist and photographer, Zanele Muholi's solo exhibition, which will be running from 31 August 2017 - 7 October 2017. The exhibition includes photo essay 'Brave Beauties' featuring transwomen, alongside 'Somnyama Ngonyama' (Hail, The Dark Lioness), a body of work confronting the politics of race and pigment through self-portraiture.

"The exhibition presents evolutions in the artist’s ongoing photographic projects, affirming Muholi’s commitment to activism through visual history, It adds interactive and educational elements, as well as an activism wall that shares experiences from the lives of Brave Beauties - transwomen and gender non-binary individuals. This exhibition engages the public with the fact of the alternating brutality and joy faced by the black LGBTQI community in South Africa." - Stevenson Gallery

The exhibition serves as a reminder that legal protections are not enough without the social mobilisation and transformation prompted by direct engagement. In a recent interview with Broadly, Muholi says: "Whenever I'm in any international space I'm not there alone – I'm coming on board as a South African citizen, coming with many voices and faces, to contribute to our South African history. We're putting that queer flag on the map, we're putting that trans flag on the map – we're ensuring trans, lesbo, queer, women's histories are part of the agenda."

Despite differences in style, method and formal articulation, these bodies of work are bound together by unifying thematic concerns – celebrating and bearing witness to the continued survival and resistance of black queer, lesbian and transgendered individuals in the face of pervasive physical and structural violence.

All framing was done by the Orms Print Room & Framing.

5Sep