by Nomfundo Mgabadeli
The Wits Arts Museum and the Stevenson Gallery in Johannesburg played host to one of the most talented, hard-working, passionate visual artist activist of today, Zanele Muholi.
Muholi unveiled her latest offering, titled “Of Love and Loss” on the 14th February along with her 2013 Prince Clause Award ceremony.
The evening commenced at the Wits Arts Museum, with a selection of works by Zanele Muholi being exhibited in her honour. She was the evening’s recipient of the 2013 Prince Claus Award, which is given to eleven highly acclaimed individuals from different countries who show a resilient aptitude towards culture and development in their relevant fields, and not only excelling but shedding light on issues they hold most dear.
In the case of Muholi, she shone the spotlight on the persecution of the black Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community, especially in township areas where attacks are as common as commuting a taxi. Her works ring more true in the current state of LGBT rights crisis across Africa.
After the award ceremony patrons gathered and made their way to the Stevenson Gallery, where the official launch “Of Love and Loss” took place. As you entered, the walls were adorned with intimate endearing stills of Muholi and her partner, which immediately set the “love” tone of the exhibition. But as you walked out of that sort of whimsical space, you were taken aback by a glass coffin placed on the floor juxtaposed with a black lesbian wedding playing in the background.
The installation drew even more attention when Muholi herself, stripped down and laid nude in the coffin, surrounded by red rose petals.
The third space was again adorned with stills of black same sex marriages which illustrated that same sex weddings can be just as magical and special than a heterosexual wedding. You were then quickly brought back to the pain endured by black LGBTs and it leaves quite a morose feeling within.
Muholi’s body of work reveals a tug of war between “Of Love and Loss” and it depends on an individual’s perspective on what they take from the exhibition. Like her previous works, the pieces bring great awareness to the plight of black LGBT people. She has solidified herself as a catalyst for change in the LGBT community. The exhibition runs up until the 4th April 2014.
About the author
Nomfundo Mgabadeli is a recent Bachelor’s Degree graduate in Journalism and a prospective student for the Master’s program.
Nomfundo has an aptitude and a great love for writing.
She is a self-confessed liberal feminist and a firm believer in equality across the board. She has no interest in furthering stereotypical, prejudicial, harmful agendas on and off the record.
In her research she has particular interest in youth, as she believes young minds have the potential to be the change that our country so desperately needs.
She currently works at Art for Humanity, a non-profit organisation that uses art to advocate human rights and various social issues that plague South Africa.
The organisation also holds art school workshops in different schools across KwaZulu-Natal for which she is a facilitator.
2014 Feb. 14: Black South African visual activist lesbian, Zanele Muholi, in a transparent coffin Of Love and Loss”
Zanele Muholi: The task of mourning
Desire for change unites post-apartheid activism
2014 Feb.14: Prince Claus Award ceremony + Of Love and Loss exhibition opening