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Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness Opening Reception

Event Date as Display String:

Friday, January 31, 2020, 6:00pm - 7:00pm


The Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African & African American Art, 102 Mt
Auburn St., Cambridge



Event Description:

Curated by Renée Mussai An Autograph traveling exhibition In more than
70 photographs, visual activist Zanele Muholi (South African, b.
1972), uses their body as a canvas to confront the politics of race
and representation in the visual archive. In Somnyama Ngonyama, which
translates to 'Hail The Dark Lioness' in isiZulu, Muholi playfully
employs the conventions of classical painting, fashion photography,
and the familiar tropes of ethnographic imagery to rearticulate
contemporary identity politics.Each black and white self-portrait asks
critical questions about social (in)justice, human rights, and
contested representations of the Black body. By increasing the
contrast in post-production, the dark complexion of Muholi's skin
becomes the focal point of interrogations of beauty, pride, desire,
and interlinked phobias and isms that must be navigated daily such as
homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, racism, and sexism.The
photographs were taken between 2014 and 2017 in Europe, North America,
Asia, and Africa. In Muholi's work, found objects are transformed from
the everyday into dramatic and historically loaded props, merging the
political with the aesthetic. Scouring pads and latex gloves address
themes of domestic servitude while alluding to sexual politics,
violence, and the often-suffocating prisms of gendered identity.
Rubber tires, cable ties, or electrical cords invoke forms of social
brutality and exploitation, often commenting on events in South
Africa's history. Materials such as plastic draw attention to
environmental issues and global waste. Accessories like cowrie shells
and beaded fly whisks highlight Western fascinations with clichéd,
exoticized representations of African cultures. Opening Reception:
Jan. 31, 2020, 6 p.m.



Event Start Date as Date Type:

Friday, January 31, 2020 - 18:00 to 19:00



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