Zanele Muholi

By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.
© Zanele Muholi | SOMNYAMA Bester I, Mayotte, 2015

It is with great pleasure that the MEP opens its doors to the visual activist Zanele Muholi, for the first retrospective presentation of their work in France. The MEP would like to thank Zanele, and all of their collaborators, for sharing this powerful and important project with our public in Paris, and also to thank our partners, principally at Tate Modern in London, for making the exhibition possible despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Zanele Muholi is that most unique of figures in the international contemporary
art world: a powerful and original voice that transcends the boundaries of their
own immediate interests and local sphere. Associated primarily with work
over many years in the LGBTQIA+ and gender-nonconforming communities
in South Africa, Muholi’s work has implications for questions of identity and
political activism in the worlds of photography and art that reach, and echo,
far beyond their origins and context. A primary and essential aspect of
Muholi’s practice is how images associated with the visual arts might not only
respond to pressing and urgent social questions (in other words, a question
of documentation, the means of bringing a subject to the public), but how they
might effect change in the world beyond that in which they were made. Since
training at the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg, Muholi has never
settled for an understanding of photography (or indeed video) associated
with the limited conventions of traditional documentary practices. Their work
takes on the narrow concept of representing the realities of their subjects
and reaches beyond, forcing us to think about, and often rethink, the ways
in which representation itself might fall short for some communities and
identities. Their practice in portraiture, portraits of both themself and others,
offer ample evidence of both the ambition and efficacy of an approach which
seeks, we could say, never to leave the possibility for an audience to be
unaffected or unmoved by an encounter with it.

As ever, in conjunction with our major exhibition in the principal galleries,
the MEP invites two exciting early-career artists to exhibit in The Studio,
which, from 2023, is programmed by Clothilde Morette for the MEP with the
continued generous support of Christian Dior Parfums. The first Studio is
that of Cedrine Scheidig, laureate of the prix Dior for photography in 2021,
who brings her own unique take on questions of race and identity in both her
native Paris, and in new works made in Martinique. The second Studio of
the season marks the first solo exhibition in France of acclaimed American
artist and filmmaker Diane Severin Nguyen, whose photographic work evokes
questions of both material and categorical instability.
The MEP is proud to bring together three artists working at the cutting
edges of today’s image world for the start of a year of programming that will
showcase the works of historic and contemporary women artists including Jay
DeFeo, Maya Rochat and Viviane Sassen.

Simon Baker
Director of the MEP

February 1, 2023
May 21, 2023
Back to Events
Back to Events