Simthembile I, East London

In 2014 Muholi began work on a series called Somnyama Ngonyama, in which they depicts themselves in various guises and performs characters, all inspired by the experiences of the queer visual activists with whom they have worked. Some of the images are intensely personal, and others are references to various political and social situations in South Africa and beyond.

The series is in contrast to a second, ongoing series documenting queer and trans people in South Africa called Faces and Phases, which started in 2006 as a means of affirming the LGBTQI community. Somnyama Ngonyama is more structured and PERFORMATIVE, as in this image, and features various costumes, props and make-up to accentuate the photographer’s blackness.

The series aims to draw attention to the struggle for survival and equality faced daily by black trans and queer people around the world, but in South Africa in particular.

Artwork courtesy of Scheryn Art Collection.

Artwork Info

Zanele Muholi

Simthembile I, East London

Silver gelatin print

Image Size: 80 x 54.6 cm