Zanele Muholi at Yancey Richardson Gallery , Chelsea

The 14 images in black-and-white that take up the main room of South African photographer Zanele Muholi’s exhibition don’t immediately register as self-portraits or even depictions of the same person—such is the chameleonlike nature of the artist’s self-presentation. Like Cindy Sherman, Muholi slips easily from one persona to the next, but her shape shifting is less about the conventions of cinematic womanhood or the foibles of society matrons than it is about the racism underlying the history of photography.
Traveling around the world, Muholi began taking a self-portrait a day wherever she was, using whatever she found at hand. Bedecked in items such as dream catchers and inner tubes, she stares confrontationally into the lens in most of the pictures. Thulile II, Umlazi, Durban captures the artist behind a chain-link fence wearing only some leaves across her chest plus a huge plastic washtub on her head, skewering any number of National Geographic photos of an impoverished “native.” In Thuleleni, Biljmer, Amsterdam, she dons a collar and cuffs made of white-paper party decorations, her dark skin glowing, in a send-up of fashion photography that seldom features models who look like her.
Venue: Yancey Richardson Gallery , Chelsea

Duration: Until Saturday December 9 2017
Address: 525 W 22nd St New York 10011
Cross street: Between Tenth and Eleventh Aves
Opening hours: Tue–Sat 10am–6pm
Transport: Subway: C, E to 23rd St


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