Zanele Muholi: Faces and Phases

A series of black-and-white photographic portraits by Zanele Muholi commemorating and celebrating Black, LGBTQIA+ lives.

A work of visual activism, ‘Faces and Phases’ is an ongoing series by Zanele Muholi which records Black, LGBTQIA+ lives and was the first exhibition in Charleston’s South Gallery.

Muholi describes themself as a visual activist. From the early 2000s, they have documented and celebrated the lives of South Africa’s Black lesbian, gay, trans, queer and intersex communities.

In ‘Faces and Phases’ each participant looks directly at the camera, challenging the viewer to hold their gaze. These images and the accompanying testimonies form a growing archive of a community of people who are risking their lives by living authentically in the face of oppression and discrimination.

“[the project] is an insider’s perspective that both commemorates and celebrates the lives of the black queers I have met in my journeys. I set out to establish relationships with them based on a mutual understanding of what it means to be a black member of the LGBTQIA+ community today.”

– Zanele Muholi

The works on show in this iteration of the series were specially selected by the artist in response to the exhibition ‘Orlando at the present time’, in which two of Muholi’s works from the series also appeared.