Claude Samuel Zanele

Claude, Samuel, Zanele. Three photographers who train the lens on themselves three times as a window on the world. They each address issues about politics, race, gender and identity in a personal way.

Throughout her life, Claude Cahun (FR, 1894-1954) took photographs of herself that challenged preconceptions about gender and identity. Born Lucy Schwob into a Jewish family of publishers, she is known as a transgender avant-la-lettre, an outspoken opponent of Nazism and an active member of the surrealist art scene.


Samuel Fosso (NG/CM, 1962) started his own photography studio at the age of thirteen. He used remnants of film rolls to take his first self-portraits. Fosso communicates a clear political message by continually adopting new identities. Through his work, postcolonial freedom fighters finally have a place in the museum. 


For the series Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail The Dark Lioness, visual activist Zanele Muholi (SA, 1972) uses their own body as a canvas to address personal and cultural politics of race. Each self-portrait, taken in (South) Africa, America, Europe and elsewhere, asks critical questions about social (in)justice, human rights, and contested representations of the Black body.*

* As a non-binary person, Zanele Muholi prefers to use the non-gendered pronouns they/them/their. This exhibition is a partnership with Autograph (London).

Curators: Rein Deslé, Joachim Naudts en Renée Mussai (Autograph London)


Image: Zanele Muholi, Ntozakhe II, Parktown, 2016. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town/ Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York.