2014 Dec. 13: Faces and Phases invokes memories

Book Review
by Kopano Sibeko

“I used to be lesbian, but now my final words are on a tombstone, because he showed me the power of a man. I could never love that, so I killed myself because I knew I could never stand corrected”.


Andiswa Dlamini  (2013) featuring in Faces series...

Andiswa Dlamini (2014) featuring in Faces series…


As I read that piece by Andiswa Dlamini, I imagined all the faces uttering those phases of their lives. I realized how oblivious we would be to the pain of each individual because we would not know how they look like.  We would not know of their existence. And lastly we would not know their realities. That poem tells a tale of the ever so aging story of a black lesbian, yet in all its growth, it still remains the same. Faces and Phases has since 2006, demonstrated these realities.

Zanele Muholi’s Faces and Phases 2006-14 embodies so much benevolence, it captures the ironic personification of freedom, as she’s been assumed to exist in South Africa.
The book tells us short stories of black lesbians and Trans-men across the globe, exemplifying that as far apart as their worlds may seem, there’s consistency in the existence of sexual orientation and gender expression.

Faces and Phases 2006-14 shares with us the beauty and talents of lesbian women and trans(wo)men coupled with the political injustices that the world has fed us. Muholi’s work is not only historic, but very revolutionary in recording images that will prove our existence, when there’s a new world order.

Muholi’s work depicts and projects the struggles that we as homosexual women and trans individuals  have faced (still face) and in the same breath shows the milestones we have overcome and all our achievements amidst all the pain. Muholi’s book shows that breaking the chains of homophobia and transphobia, is not an event, it’s a process.

In this book, Muholi demonstrates different kinds of activism, from visual, poetical to artistic. This has allowed participants to be themselves and echo the voices within themselves that the world has always silenced.

On a light note, I flipped through the book and laughed on all the memories I’ve made with some of the faces in this book (ex’s and friends). Personally, this book will be treated as an album to show my children and their children some of the people that have channelled my growth.

“They might swear at us as much as they want to, beat us up, rape us and murder us, but they won’t get our souls. Our inner beauty will remain and it will be expressed in every special way”. In the end it is in these words by Pearl Mbali Zulu where you see the artistry in volumes of what Muholi has conceived.



Previous Faces and Phases (2006-2014) book reviews



2014 Dec. 1: “The portraits are no longer just pictures”






2014 Nov. 25: Faces and Phases – embodying the freedom of being






2014 Nov. 24: Our Photographs have been taken






2014 Nov. 20: Book Review – Faces and Phases (2006 – 2014)



This entry was posted in A new visual history, Beyond SA borders, Claiming mainstream spaces, Claiming the public spaces, Collaborations, Comfort, Comments from the audience, Commitment, Committed, Communication strategies, Community, Community based media, Community education, Community Mobilizing, Community organizing, Community outreach, Community work, Confession, Confrontation, Connected souls, Connections, Consent, Contests, Conversation, courage, Crea(c)tive senses, Creating awareness, Creative Writing, Creativity, Cultural activists, Culture, Culture of reading and writing, Details, Difference, Different positions, discourse, Discussion, Diversity, Documentation; Filming; Photography; Community, Documenting our own lives, Documenting realities of the townships, Embodies, Emotional support, Empowerment, Encounter, Endurance, Freedom, Individuals, Lesbian Love Is Possible in South Africa, Lesbianism, Lessons learnt, Life Stories, Mainstreaming our queer issues, Making a mark, Media works, Personification, Political injustices, Politics of existence, Politics of geography, Professionals, Publications, Recording, relative, Remembering, Report, Representation, Sexuality in South Africa, Sharing, Sharing knowledge, Sharing thoughts, Struggles, Support, Support is the system, Supporting each other, Supportive friends and families, Teachings, Transgenderism, Transphobia, Victimisation, Visual Activist, Visual Arts, Visual democracy, Visual diaries, Visual historical initiative and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 2014 Dec. 13: Faces and Phases invokes memories

  1. I am grateful that we are telling our stories… And sharing the stories told. They are no longer just pictures… or the silences before the pictures.

  2. molebogeng jubjub ntlatlane says:

    clean job, perfection and excellency is ur strength and pillar. ..God grant u more life and power…VIVA INKANYISO VIVA…LONG LIVE!

  3. Pingback: 2016 April 27: Re/Uniting with Faces and Phases on Freedom Day | inkanyiso.org

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