“These feel like images you might have dreamed, both of the kind that slip away and the ones you manage to keep tenuously in your grasp, slippery, otherworldly. . . . Before our eyes, Zanele Muholi transforms into a mother, a domestic worker, an Afrofuturist, an oracle. It’s fiction and it is not.”—Yrsa Daley-Ward, The New York Times Book Review
Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness is the long-awaited monograph from one of the most powerful visual activists of our time. The book features over ninety of Muholi’s evocative self-portraits, each image drafted from material props in Muholi’s immediate environment. A powerfully arresting collection of work, Muholi’s radical statements of identity, race, and resistance are a direct response to contemporary and historical racisms. As Muholi states, “I am producing this photographic document to encourage individuals in my community to be brave enough to occupy spaces—brave enough to create without fear of being vilified. . . . To teach people about our history, to rethink what history is all about, to reclaim it for ourselves—to encourage people to use artistic tools such as cameras as weapons to fight back.”
With more than twenty written contributions from curators, poets, and authors, alongside luxurious tritone reproductions of Muholi’s images, Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness is as much a manifesto of resistance as it is an autobiographical, artistic statement.
Photographs by Zanele Muholi. Interviewer Renée Mussai. Contributions by Unoma Azuah, Milisuthando Bongela, Cheryl Clarke, Fariba Derakhshani, Andiswa Dlamini, Sophie Hackett, M. Neelika Jayawardane, Mapula Lehong, Sindiwe Magona, Napo Masheane, Hlonipha Mokoena, Jackie Mondi, Carla Williams, Deborah Willis, and Christie van Zyl.