Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness, Volume II

The highly anticipated second volume to the widely acclaimed and celebrated self-portrait series, Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness.

Zanele Muholi, Manzi I , 2022; from Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness, Volume II (Aperture, 2024). © 2024 Zanele Muholi

In Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness, Volume II, Zanele Muholi explores and expands upon notions of Blackness, and the myriad possibilities of the self. Since the publication of the first volume in 2018, Muholi has continued to photograph themself in a range of new international locations. Drawing on different materials or found objects referencing their environment, a specific event or lived experience, Muholi boldly explores their own image and innate possibilities as a Black individual in today’s global society, and—most important—speaks emphatically in response to contemporary and historical racisms. Renée Mussai, curator and historian, brings together written contributions from more than ten curators, poets, and authors, building a poetic and experimental framework that extends the idea of speculative futures and the potentiality of multivalent selves. Powerfully arresting, this collection further amplifies Muholi’s expressive and radical manifesto. As they state in the first volume, “My practice as a visual activist looks at Black resistance—existence as well as insistence.”

Zanele Muholi, Buciko I , 2019; from Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness, Volume II (Aperture, 2024). © 2024 Zanele Muholi

Zanele Muholi (born in Umlazi, Durban, South Africa, 1972) is a visual activist and photographer, cofounder of the Forum for the Empowerment of Women, and founder of Inkanyiso, a forum for queer and visual media. Muholi has won numerous awards, including France’s Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2017; ICP Infinity Award for Documentary and Photojournalism (2016); Fine Prize for an emerging artist at the 2013 Carnegie International; and a Prince Claus Award (2013). Their Faces and Phases series was shown at dOCUMENTA (13) and the 55th Venice Biennale, and was shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize in 2015. The first volume of Somnyama Ngonyama (Aperture, 2018) was awarded the Kraszna-Krausz Photography Book Award in 2019. Muholi is an honorary professor at the University of the Arts Bremen, Germany. They are represented by Stevenson Gallery, Johannesburg, and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York.

Zanele Muholi, Mihla IV , 2020; from Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness, Volume II (Aperture, 2024). © 2024 Zanele Muholi

Renée Mussai is artistic director and chief curator at the Walther Collection, after more than twenty years as senior curator and head of collection at Autograph, London. A curator, writer, and scholar of photography and lens-based media with a special interest in African and diasporic lens-based Black feminist and queer visual arts practices, Mussai has organized internationally traveling exhibitions such as Zanele Muholi’s Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness and the critically acclaimed Black Chronicles programs. Her publications include Lina Iris Viktor’s award-winning monograph Some Are Born to Endless Night—Dark Matter (2020) and the forthcoming Eyes That Commit: Black Women and Non-Binary Photographers—A Visual Survey (2023). Mussai is currently research associate at the Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre, University of Johannesburg; associate lecturer at University of the Arts London; and former guest curator and fellow at the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University.

Sophia Al-Maria is a Qatari American artist, writer, and filmmaker living and working in London. Her writing has appeared in Triple CanopyBidoun, and Harper’s magazine and is anthologized in Sad Sack: Collected Writing by Sophia Al-Maria (2019). Al-Maria’s work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the New Museum, New York; 2013 Gwangju Biennale, South Korea; Waqif Art Centre, Doha, Qatar; and Townhouse Gallery, Cairo, among other venues.

Natasha Becker is the inaugural curator of African art at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Previously, Becker worked for more than fifteen years in historical research, teaching, academic programs, and curating contemporary art at various universities, museums, foundations, and commercial art galleries. She also cofounded and codirected Assembly Room, a feminist curatorial project in New York City supporting women in the arts. She is a founding member and volunteer mentor at Art for Action South Africa.

Phoebe Boswell is a multidisciplinary artist based in London. She has had solo exhibitions at Autograph ABP, London; Göteborgs Konsthall, Gothenburg; and New Art Exchange, Nottingham, UK. Her works are held in public and private collections, including the UK Government Art Collection and the Studio Museum in Harlem.

Tina M. Campt leads the Black Visualities Initiative at the Cogut Institute for Humanities and is the founding convenor of the Practicing Refusal Collective and the Sojourner Project. She is the author of more than five books, including A Black Gaze: Artists Changing How We See (2022) and Listening to Images (2017), and coeditor of Imagining Everyday Life: Enactments in Vernacular Photography (2020). She currently holds a joint appointment at Princeton University’s Department of Art and Archaeology and at the university’s Lewis Center for the Arts as the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor in the Humanities.

Natasha Ginwala is associate curator at large at Gropius Bau, Berlin, and artistic director of Colomboscope in Sri Lanka. Her curatorial catalog includes Contour Biennale 8, Documenta 14, and survey exhibitions of Bani Abidi, Akinbode Akinbiyi, and Zanele Muholi at Gropius Bau. Ginwala writes regularly on contemporary art and visual culture and has coedited volumes such as Stronger than Bone (2021) and Nights of the Dispossessed: Riots Unbound (2021).

Zanele Muholi, Zibandlela III , 2020; from Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness, Volume II (Aperture, 2024). © 2024 Zanele Muholi

Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a writer, independent scholar, poet, activist, and educator based in Durham, North Carolina. She is the author of several books, including Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals (2022) and Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity (2017), and is coeditor of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Frontlines (2016). In 2020, Gumbs was awarded the National Humanities Center Fellowship for her forthcoming book, The Eternal Life of Audre Lorde: A Cosmic Biography.

Aluta Humbane is a composer, producer, musician, photographer, LGBTIQ+ activist, and playwright.  Humbane is a resident vocalist at the Playhouse Company in Durban, South Africa, and is the director of Injongo Performing Arts in Durban.

Ntsiki Jacobs is a researcher, freelance writer, and editor at the Muholi Art Institute. Jacobs is also a business development consultant, working with the National Department of Transport in South Africa.

Khanyisile Mbongwa is an independent curator, artist, and sociologist. She was a Mellon Foundation Fellow at the Institute of Creative Arts at the University of Cape Town, where she is now a PhD candidate. Her work focuses on spatiality, radical Black self-love and imagination, and Black futurity. She was chief curator of the 2020 Stellenbosch Triennale and curator of the 12th Liverpool Biennial in 2023.

Porsha Olayiwola is a writer, performer, educator, and curator. An Individual World Poetry Slam champion and the artistic director at Mass LEAP, a literary youth organization, Olayiwola is the current poet laureate for the city of Boston, and the author of the collection i shimmer sometimes, too(2019).

Lola Olufemi is a Black feminist writer and Stuart Hall Foundation researcher based at the Centre for Research and Education in Art and Media at the University of Westminster, UK. Her work focuses on the uses of the feminist imagination and its relationship to cultural production, political demands, and futurity. She is author of Feminism Interrupted: Disrupting Power (2020) and Experiments in Imagining Otherwise (2021), and is a member of “bare minimum,” an interdisciplinary anti-work arts collective.

Legacy Russell is a curator and writer, and the executive director and chief curator of The Kitchen, New York. Previously, she was the associate curator of exhibitions at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Russell is the author of Glitch Feminism: A Manifesto (2020), and her writing has been recognized by the Thoma Foundation 2019 Arts Writing Award in Digital Art, a 2020 Rauschenberg Residency Fellowship, and a 2021 Creative Capital Award.


Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness, Volume II
Additional contributions by Sophia Al-Maria, Natasha Becker, Phoebe Boswell, Tina M. Campt,
Natasha Ginwala, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Aluta Humbane, Ntsiki Jacobs, Khanyisile Mbongwa,
Porsha Olayiwola, Lola Olufemi, and Legacy Russell
Design by Grégoire Pujade-Lauraine, based on the 2018 volume by Duncan Whyte
Aperture, 11 June 2024
Hardcover, 172 pages, 80 ills
35.6 x 26 cm
RRP $85

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