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Refilwe Mahlaba, Thokoza, Johannesburg

A work made of gelatin silver print, from the series "faces & phases," edition 6/8.
© 2010 Zanele Muholi.

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  • A work made of gelatin silver print, from the series "faces & phases," edition 6/8.


2010, printed 2014


Zanele Muholi
South African, born 1972

About this artwork

A self-described “visual activist,” Zanele Muholi aims—in both their photographs and social activism—to redefine the face of Africa and combat violence against the LGBT community. In 2006 they began a series of portraits, Faces and Phases, celebrating black lesbians in Africa. The photographs became an archive of positive images of black queer culture, in their words “marking, mapping, and preserving an often invisible community for posterity.” Muholi counters oppression by ensuring visibility, giving human expression to otherwise faceless statistics. In the vein of August Sander, whose photographs of the people of Germany catalogued a range of professions, they have documented this community’s rich diversity by photographing actresses, soccer players, scholars, dancers, filmmakers, writers, activists, and others. In each of these compelling portraits, their subjects face the camera with forcefulness and dignity.


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Photography and Media


Zanele Muholi


Refilwe Mahlaba, Thokoza, Johannesburg


South Africa


Made 2010


Gelatin silver print, from the series "Faces & Phases," edition 6/8


No markings recto; inscribed verso, lower left, in graphite: "LUM34586"


76.5 × 50.1 cm (image); 86.8 × 60.5 cm (paper/mount)

Credit Line

Comer Foundation Fund

Reference Number



© 2010 Zanele Muholi.

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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