Southern Guild: Zanele Muholi

Southern Guild: Zanele Muholi
Southern Guild: Zanele Muholi

Southern GuildEdit in Los Angeles presents an exhibition of the work of Zanele Muholi.

Provocative and insightful, in this presentation, Zanele encourages his audience to question the world around them – by brandishing works of art that re-imagine the self and re-envision action (What does it mean to exist in this age? How can individual and cultural trauma be recognized and transcended? In what ways can art serve as a catalyst for discussion, education and advocacy for anti-racism, gender expression and reproductive health?) Each portrait confronts and celebrates their identification with the black and LGBTQIA communities of their native South Africa. , allowing individuals from diverse geographies and generations to relate and make space for presence, self-love, remembrance, and healing.

The exhibition features Muholi’s recent additions to their ongoing self-portrait series Somnyama Ngonyama, as well as their latest work a bronze sculpture. Titled “Hail the Dark Lioness” in English, the photographs that make up this body of work are a visual exploration of the term Zulu Somnyamawhich means black, and Ngonyama, which is both the word for lion and their mother’s last name. These portraits are taken all over the world, where Muholi captures their form in complete solitude. Wrapped in capes made from hotel sheets, adorned with crowns made from clothes pins, decorated with lipstick made from toothpaste and Vaseline, these works serve simultaneously as a document and a vision of the embodiment of the existing self in and through the immediacy of the medium.

It was with this awareness that Zanele embarked on his sculptural works, creating visceral visualizations of their genitals and reproductive organs. Existing in a non-binary body, Muholi has experienced various conflicts in gynecological medicine and aims to speak out against misinformation spread in South Africa’s black and trans communities, which contributes to the perpetuation of taboos around the topics of gender and sexual variance . After being diagnosed with uterine fibroids, the artist reflected on the intersecting influences of their inherited genealogy and Catholic upbringing – considering how under-educated they were about pre-existing conditions and criticizing the religion’s condemnation of sexual pleasure and queer identity. Made on a colossal scale, glistening bronze casts of their wombs and clitorises are juxtaposed with avatars of themselves dressed in clerical robes, making quite a powerful statement.

Zanele Muholi
May 21 – July 13, 2024
Southern GuildEdit
747 N Western Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90029
www.southernguild.com

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