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Zanele Muholi exhibition to return to Tate Modern in June 2024

Acclaimed photographer Zanele Muholi is getting a major career retrospective exhibition at Tate Modern in 2024.

In fact, the exhibition is a second attempt to host a major show of the work of the artist at the gallery — the first was massively curtailed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the rolling lockdowns in the UK at the end of 2020. The first iteration lasted mere days.

But this second incarnation promises to make up for the false start, not least because it’ll contain more artworks. It promises to include new works produced in the intervening three years. In total, over 260 photographs will go on display, representing the full breadth of the artist’s career to date.

Black and white photograph of a figure emerging out of the sea with their hand on their head
Zanele Muholi, Manzi I, West Coast, Cape Town , 2022 Courtesy the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery © Zanele Muholi

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.

A number of Muholi’s key photographic series will be highlights of the exhibition. These include the early series Only Half the Picture, where Muholi captures moments of love and intimacy as well as intense images alluding to traumatic events in South Africa at the beginning of the 21st century. In 2004, the series was exhibited at Johannesburg Art Gallery and was met with adoring fans, critical acclaim and many years later, international recognition.

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.

Other key series of works include Brave Beauties, which celebrates empowered non-binary people and trans women, many of whom have won Miss Gay Beauty pageants, and Being, a series of tender images of couples which challenge stereotypes and taboos.

Muholi turns the camera on themself in the ongoing series Somnyama Ngonyama – translated as ‘Hail the Dark Lioness’. These powerful and reflective images explore themes including labour, racism, Eurocentrism and sexual politics.​

The brick facade of the Tate Modern's new wing with blue sky behind
Tate Modern's Blavatnik Building

Tate Members will get in free like all exhibitions at the gallery. Everyone else will need to wait for updates on when tickets will be on sale.

Art lovers will be spoilt for choice for exhibitions at Tate Modern in 2024. Other major exhibitions include Expressionists, a landmark show of over 130 works by the Blue Rider circle, and the UK’s first major exhibition of American artist Mike Kelley. In February, a career retrospective of artist and activist Yoko Ono will also open, and is shaping up to be one of the UK's most popular art exhibitions of the year.

Zanele Muholi — supported by the Huo Family Foundation — will open at Tate Modern on 6 Jun 2024 and will run until 26 Jan 2025.


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