STEVENSON presents Of Love & Loss, a solo exhibition by visual activist and photographer Zanele Muholi. The opening coincides with the presentation of a prestigious Prince Claus Award to Muholi in Johannesburg.
In times of increasingly homophobic legislation enacted by African countries and in a climate of intolerance towards homosexuals in the Western world, South Africa distinguishes itself with a Constitution that recognises same-sex marriages; yet the black LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) community is plagued by hate crimes. Black lesbians are particularly vulnerable and are regularly victims of brutal murders and ‘curatives rapes’ at the hand of neighbours or ‘friends’.
In 2013 Muholi has been documenting weddings and funerals in the black LGBTI community in South Africa, joyful and painful events that often seem to go hand in hand. The show features photographs, video works and an installation highlighting how manifestations of sorrow and celebration bear similarities and are occasions to underline the need for a safe space to express individual identities.
As Muholi writes: ‘Ayanda Magoloza and Nhlanhla Moremi’s wedding in Katlehong took place four months after Duduzile Zozo was murdered in Thokoza. Promise Meyer and Gift Sammone’s wedding in Daveyton took place on 22 December in Daveyton, 15 days after Maleshwane Radebe was buried in Ratanda. Six months earlier, Ziningi and Delisile Ndlela were married in Chesterville, Durban. Many in the area attended the ceremony, blessed the newlywed couple and prayed for them and their children. We long for such blessings as we continue to read about the trials and tribulations that LGBTI persons experience in their churches, where homosexuality is persecuted. In 2014, when South African democracy celebrates its 20 years, it seems more important than ever to raise again our voice against hate crimes and discriminations made towards the LGBTI community.’
The exhibition includes also a series of autobiographical images, intimate portraits of Muholi and her partner taken during their travels, a tender counterpoint to the tension still generated in South Africa today by same-sex and interracial relationships.
The exhibition opens on Friday 14 February, from 7.30 to 9.30pm
The artist will be present from 8pm.