Scan Magazine, Issue 140, March 2022

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Scan Magazine

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Swedish Culture Special

View of the Zanele Muholis exhibition at Bildmuseet, 2021–2022.

Meet the gaze of Zanele Muholi Synonymous with world-class contemporary international art, Bildmuseet in Sweden’s Umeå is home to high-quality exhibitions, thought-provoking collaborations and stunning architecture. The museum is currently hosting a powerful collection of photos from world-renowned Zanele Muholi, and its doors are wide open. By Emma Rodin |

Photos: Mikael Lundgren

When it comes to Bildmuseet, it’s not only what’s on the inside that counts. The museum is in itself a piece of art, with architecture that attracts the eye. Designed by renowned Danish firm Henning Larsen Architects, the sevenfloor purpose-built building has a wooden façade with large windows and sits next to the serene Ume River. It’s fitting, really, that this somewhat bold building is home to Muholi’s striking collection, giving its significance and importance a platform to flourish. Zanele Muholi is a South African photographer and visual activist whose work has been exhibited all over the world. 32 |

Issue 140

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March 2022

Muholi has portrayed the lives of people within the LGBTQIA+ community for over a decade, empathy and pride always taking centre stage. Now, and until 8 May, around 100 photos and video installations divided into eight themes are on display at Bildmuseet. “We’re thrilled to be showing Zanele Muholi’s work here at the museum and inviting the public to discover and engage with this important collection of art,” says Brita Täljedal, one of the display’s curators. The exhibition presents Muholi’s career as photographer and activist and includes photos that are both beautiful and captivating. One of the series on show is

Only Half the Picture, which documents people who have been victims of hate crime because of their sexual orientation. In this series, a sense of love, intimacy and strength features alongside intense images alluding to traumatic events. Because although South Africa’s 1996 constitution promised equality for the LGBTQIA+ community, people in this group are still targets of violence and prejudice. Stories of bravery Another theme – and perhaps the most impactful – is the ongoing series Somnyama Ngonyama, which translates to ‘Hail the Dark Lioness’. A collection of self-portraits, these powerful and reflective images explore themes including labour, racism, Euro-centrism and sexual politics. At first glance, they bring the mind to editorial fashion shots, but as you look closer, you realise that they’re anything but.