Dancing across, and often blurring, the line between the overtly political and outstandingly gorgeous, photographer Zanele Muholi captures the lives and love of Black lesbians in post-Apartheid South Africa. The artist self-describes her work as representing “the black female body in a frank yet intimate way that challenges the history of the portrayal of black women’s bodies in documentary photography,” and her website provides visitors with a wealth of photographs, writings, and videos that “map and archive a visual history” of her subjects.
Despite having the first constitution in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and becoming the fifth nation in the world to legalize gay marriage, South Africa has a troubled history of anti-LGBT sentiments, especially outside of its urban centers. Lesbian women are routinely targets of hate crimes, and societal acceptance outside of South Africa’s major cities needs improvement.
Muholi has a gift for portraying the tangible, human emotions that her subjects possess. She celebrates love, and her work makes us want to do the same.
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