Yancey Richardson Gallery is pleased to present Faces and Phases, the first solo exhibition in the United States for South African artist Zanele Muholi. Begun in 2006, Faces and Phases is an ongoing series of photographic portraits of black lesbians and transgender individuals Muholi has met in South Africa and beyond. The portraits work as a visual statement as well as an archive, presenting and preserving an often abused and ostracized community through visual records. As Muholi writes:
“In the face of all the challenges our community encounters daily, I embarked on a journey of visual activism to ensure that there is black queer visibility. It is important to mark, map and preserve our mo(ve)ments through visual histories for reference and posterity so that future generations will note that we were here.”
“In Faces and Phases I present our existence and resistance through positive imagery of black queers (especially lesbians) in South African society and beyond. I show our aesthetics through portraiture. Historically, portraits serve as memorable records for lovers, family and friends.”
“Faces express the person, and Phases signify the transition from one stage of sexuality or gender expression and experience to another. Faces is also about the face-to-face confrontation between myself as the photographer/activist and the many lesbians, women and transmen I have interacted with from different places. Photographs in this series traverse spaces from Gauteng and Cape Town to London and Toronto, and include the townships of Alexandra, Soweto, Vosloorus, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Katlehong and Kasigo.”
The gallery’s exhibition is comprised of a selection of the 64 portraits exhibited recently at dOCUMENTA(13) in Kassel, Germany from June-September 2012, and at the Goethe-Institute in Johannesburg from November-January 2013. In addition, a selection of Faces and Phases was included in the 29th Sao Paulo Biennale in 2010 as well as the exhibition Faces of Our Time at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2011. Photographs from the series have been acquired by the Brooklyn Museum, Museum of Modern Art, New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Yale Art Gallery.
Zanele Muholi was born in Umlazi, Durban, in 1972, and lives in Cape Town. She studied photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Newtown, Johannesburg. In 2009 she was the Ida Ely Rubin Artist-in-Residence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Also in 2009 she received a Fanny Ann Eddy accolade from IRN-Africa for her outstanding contributions to the study of sexuality in Africa, and won Casa Africa and Fondation Blachere awards at Les Rencontres de Bamako biennial of African photography. The first part of the Faces and Phases series was published by Prestel in 2010.