#Zanele Muholi

In Paris, Zanele Muholi’s Bronze Sculptures Summon the Stories of Black Queer South Africans

October 19, 2023

Grace Ebert

All images © Zanele Muholi, courtesy of Paris + par Art Basel, shared with permission

South African artist Zanele Muholi (previously) has spent the better part of their career challenging portraiture traditions. Often working with quotidian objects and black-and-white photography, Muholi’s works center themself and Black queer people who have long been omitted from the canon. In recent years, they’ve begun to create bronze sculptures with similar motives, some of which are on view now at The Jardin des Tuileries.

Part of Paris + par Art Basel, Muholi’s The Politics of Black Silhouettes encompasses a series of figurative works positioned alongside statues by art historical greats like Auguste Rodin and Alberto Giacometti. While the previously installed sculptures are often presented on pedestals in stately positions, Muholi’s rest directly on the ground, exploring notions of value and reverence. One work depicts a figure sleeping softly on their side, while another shows a subject bound to a chair with belt-like restraints, their hands and feet anxious to move. The artist’s intent is corrective and “to rewrite a Black queer and trans visual history of South Africa for the world to know of our resistance and existence at the height of hate crimes in South Africa and beyond.”

The Politics of Black Silhouettes is on view through October 31. Explore more of Muholi’s works across mediums on Instagram.


#Zanele Muholi


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