by Rene Mathibe
I have been fascinated with books ever since I learnt how to read. To be able to read and understand someone’s story is beautiful. Zanele Muholi launched her fourth book titled “Faces and Phases 2006-14” this year on the 7th of November 2014 in Johannesburg, Newtown.
The book captures a photographic journey of Black lesbians and transgender individuals’ portraits produced in South Africa and beyond. What fascinated me about this edition was not the portraits captured only, but also the stories next to some of the portraits.
As you read these stories, you develop some kind of relationship with the people. The portraits are no longer just pictures, but you are able to connect with the people as you read their stories. Stories so incredibly frank and touching, some very sad and shocking that you cannot help but feel compassion for the people.
Hopeful stories and poetry are also included in the book. This balances out some of the morbid stories told by the participants. The participants have been brave to share their stories and thoughts. By doing so, the stories emphasizes Muholi’s mission of making us visible and documented.
The eight years in which she photographed the portraits the participants have grown to be agents of change. All the participants have one resonating message, we are not victims but survivors and the day will come when we do not have to suffer for being, who we are.
Reneilwe (Rene) Mathibe is painter and writer living and working in Johannesburg. She was born in 1989, in the North West Province of South Africa. She completed her B-Tech Degree in Visual Arts at the University of Johannesburg with painting as a major.
Mathibe currently works as a drawing and concept development facilitator at Artist Proof Studio.
Recent group exhibitions include Women’s Journey, Limpopo Coming of age, 21 years of Artist Proof, Johannesburg and Images of Women. Her work focuses and examines the constraints faced by most black lesbians in South Africa.
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