News — 5 Jul 2017

Amsterdam, 29 June, 2017 - This summer, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam mounts the debut museum solo in the Netherlands of the South African photographer and visual activist Zanele Muholi (1972, Umlazi, Durban). From an ‘insider position’, Muholi photographs the black lesbian and transgender community in South Africa. Starting with her very first work, Only Half the Picture (2006), her arresting, powerful and sometimes witty images have focused eyes on a community that, while it has been constitutionally protected since 1996, remains at risk of horrendous abuse, discrimination and ‘curative’ rape. Muholi: “We’ve lost so many people to hate crimes… you never know if you’ll see someone again the next day.”

Making its Dutch premiere is Muholi’s latest series Somnyama Ngonyama (Hail the Dark Lioness, 2015 to the present). A series of self-portraits, this body of work marks a radical new step in her oeuvre. Often experimenting with dramatic poses and lighting, Zanele turns the camera on herself, capturing the multiple roles that she assumes as a black lesbian woman. Through the use of highly contrasting black and white tonal values, Muholi exaggerates her skin tone to emphasize her ‘blackness’. Click here for the complete version of the first press release.

Opening Friday 7 July

During the opening on Friday 7 July, there will be a performance by musician, vocalist and visual activist Annalyzer. Writer Phila Mbanjwa will give a poetry recital.

Programme (in the Audi Gallery):

20.00 : commencement

20.15 : word of welcome by director Beatrix Ruf

20.30 : poetry performance by Phila Mbanjwa

20.30 : performance by Annalyzer

20.40 : exhibition opens

22.00 : end

More about the performers

Philile 'Phila' Mbanjwa writes poetry, scripts and short stories inspired by her life, romantic experiences and encounters. The poem The Walk of the Lioness that Mbanjwa will recite, tells of the travels of an African woman, her struggle and her beauty from head to toe.

In her choral singing musician, composer and actress Anelisa 'Annalyzer' Stuurman interweaves native Xhosa songs in which expressive, rhythmical vocals contrast with powerful bass lines. Annalyzer’s performances also involve the traditional Xhosa-dance 'ukuxhensta' to capture the emotional intensity of her sound, and translate it into contemporary beats like dubstep, trap and hip-hop, accompanied by musical elements borrowed from the Nguni tribe.

© Zanele Muholi, Bester I, Mayotte, 2015, silver gelatine print. Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Zanele Muholi artist-in-residence at BijlmAIR

Prior to her solo exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum, Zanele Muholi will be an artist-in-residence at BijlmAIR in Amsterdam Southeast where she is working on her latest series of self-portraits, Somnyama Ngonyama. BijlmAIR is an artist-in-residence programme run by CBK Zuidoost, in partnership with Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Bradwolff Projects. Every year, each of these art institutes invites an international artist to live and work in the BijlmAIR studio in Amsterdam Southeast. This year, the Stedelijk Museum and CBK Zuidoost invited the South African artist Zanele Muholi.

World Cinema Amsterdam

The eighth edition of World Cinema Amsterdam will be held in the Rialto, De Balie, and various open-air locations from 17 – 26 August. This year’s focus programme is Actual Africa, with a screening of Gay Africa in the Rialto on Sunday 20 August. Also featured is We Live in Fear (2013), one of the short films that is also on view in the exhibition Zanele Muholi at the Stedelijk. Further details can be found at:

Note to editors

Members of the press may register for the press preview. For more information, interview requests and visual material, please contact the Stedelijk Museum Press Office: 020 - 573 2660 / 656 or


The Stedelijk Contemporary presentations in 2017 are made possible in part by the generous support of main benefactor Ammodo, the International Collector Circle and the Curator Circle.