Zanele Muholi, Bester I, 2015, self portrait, Mayotte. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Zanele Muholi, Bona, 2015, self portrait, Charlottesville. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Zanele Muholi, Somnyama Ngonyama I, 2014, self portrait, Paris. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Zanele Muholi, Lungile Cleo Dladla, 2011, KwaThema Community Hall, Springs, Johannesburg. Part of the 8-year collaborative project Faces and Phases. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Philadelphia Photo Arts Center (PPAC) brought South African photographer Zanele Muholi to Philadelphia for an 18-month residency and exhibition considering questions of gender, identity, agency, and representation. Muholi’s first major US-based project, The Women's Mobile Museum reimagines a museum as a collaborative, mobile exhibition space “wherein women’s social and economic equity are a central tenet for the transformative experience of participants and audiences,” PPAC says. Muholi worked with a diverse group of 10 Philadelphia women to develop photography and visual storytelling skills that empowered the women to tell their own stories through self-portraits and portraits of women in the participants’ lives. Following the training period, the group prepared a temporary, transportable gallery that holds participants’ and Muholi’s work. The mobile museum has toured to community centers in Philadelphia’s Point Breeze and Juanita Park neighborhoods, inviting the public to see the work and engage with the artists. The project culminated in a 2019 exhibition at PPAC and an installation at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, encompassing the complete body of work produced during the residency and accompanied by a publication co-designed by the core artists.
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