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Brushstrokes: Portraits of South Africa’s Lesbian Community

A black and white photo of a naked woman with her back turned to us. Her hands go up her head, forming a kind of band for her Senegalese twists-styled hair that fall in a kind of pony tail till the top of her neck.

In the portrait series ‘Faces and Phases’, South African photographer Zanele Muholi has created a visual record of black lesbian history that spans more than a decade. In the striking photos set against different textures and backgrounds, Muholi showcases the diversity and fluidity of black lesbian identity in South Africa.

Through the series, Muholi asserts the black lesbian community’s right to document their history and existence. ‘Faces and Phases’ is both a celebration of the way the community has developed over time and a piece of ‘visual activism’ highlighting the issues that South African lesbians have faced throughout recent history.

Check out the series to get a glimpse into South Africa’s queer past, present and future.

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