Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness

September 14 – December 8, 2018

Ntozakhe II, Parktown, 2016. © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York

In partnership with Autograph, 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 Muholi, whose pronouns are they and them, uses their body as a canvas to confront the politics of race and representation in the visual archive. 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, Muholi interrogates complex representations of beauty, pride, and desire. Gazing defiantly at the camera, Muholi challenges the viewer’s perceptions while firmly asserting their cultural identity on their own terms.

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Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness is organized by Autograph, London, and curated by Renée Mussai.

The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art’s presentation is made possible by the Wish Foundation and the LUBO Fund.

Wish Foundation and LUBO Fund

Major funding for this organization is provided by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners.

Fulton County Arts & Culture

Additional funding provided by the Massey Charitable Trust.