February 1 – April 27, 2014
The Williams College Museum of Art presents the exhibition Zanele Muholi, February 1 to April 27, 2014. Internationally recognized South African photographer and visual activist Zanele Muholi bears witness to the experiences of black lesbian, gay, transgender, and intersex individuals from South Africa and other African countries. The exhibition joins three of her widely acclaimed photographic series, Faces and Phases, Beulahs and Being, with documentary videos created by Inkanyiso, a media collective founded by the artist to broaden the visual representation of black queer life.
Faces and Phases (2006–) commemorates the lives of female friends and acquaintances of the artist, many of whom have been victims of hate crimes. The most recent photograph from the series in the exhibition was taken in Williamstown in October 2013 and depicts Beyonce Karungi, a Ugandan transgendered activist visiting Williams at the invitation of the Economics and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies departments. Muholi and Karungi, who had met previously in Africa, serendipitously crossed paths again at Williams and there was a fruitful collaboration.
Beulahs (2006–2010) is comprised mainly of color photographs of young, fashionable transgendered and gay men whose gestures and style of dress blur the lines between masculine and feminine expressions of gender. Muholi’s Being series (2007) daringly depicts love and eroticism between women. Collectively, the artist’s sensual and erotic depictions of same sex intimacy and desires confront normative ideologies and social institutions that privilege heterosexual representations of love.
For more images of Zanele Muholi in dialogue with the Williams community, see the following:
Myra Greene: Selections from My White Friends
January 29 – April 14, 2013
“These photographs offer descriptions instead of resolutions. Readers charged with dissecting coded information, are confronted with their own notions of race.” —Myra Greene
Myra Greene (American, b. 1975) is a Chicago-based artist whose work engages the history of photography as both an art form and a social-scientific instrument used to objectify and classify people into social and racial types. In My White Friends, Greene considers whether a photograph can capture the nuances of whiteness. Her portraits depict her white middle-class companions as archetypal figures, a collectivity, and a racial group. The subjects’ physical bodies and the spaces they inhabit signify whiteness as a situated social identity and complex cultural construct that raises questions about status, cultural and racial norms, and privilege.
However, Greene’s sitters are not just anonymous stand-ins for a political and cultural point. Her portraits are also intimate portrayals of people the artist knows well in the places they feel most comfortable. The artist and her subjects are friends at times playfully complicit in a performance of whiteness. More often, they simply exist in the worlds that they have constructed.
For images of the Williams community discussing white privilege, see the following link: