Live Mag

A participant in Zanele Muholi’s portrait series chats to us about the importance of the project

by: Tshepo Mosokotso - 20 September 2016

zanele 1

In all their shapes and sizes, black members of the LGBTI who for the past ten years have posed for portraits in front of activist and photographer Zanele Muholi.

There was a recent opening of the Faces and Phases exhibition at Stevenson’s gallery in Braamfontein, which features black and white portraits of black lesbian women, mostly from South African townships.

Muholi said this is a lifetime project for her, “Faces and Phases is a lifetime project. Those with more portraits on the show are the participants whom I had more access to. I’m still photographing different participants wherever and whenever I could reach each one of them”.

“The journey has been long and hard” she adds, and  continued to pay homage to participant’s bravery and described them as “history makers”.

I spoke to one of the participants in the series, Leboo Phume Leptie, a 25-year-old, queer woman from Kwa-Thema, Springs.


Leboo Phume Leptie

Tshepo Mosokotso: How did you become a participant in this project?

Leboo Phume Leptie: She had seen me during an award ceremony (LGBTI Awards) where I won the Best Dressed for 2012. We then met again in Kwa-Thema at a wedding where she took a picture of me and we exchanged numbers. And that’s how I actually became a participant. Like I’m always down for a photoshoot since I love being in front of the camera.

TM: What do you think this project will achieve?

LPL:  It’s already achieving, I mean we’ve just celebrated 10 years of the Faces and Phases. It reaches out to the masses. If you can just analyse the photos more, you’d see that they tell a story.

TM: Do you feel we need more of these projects?

LPL: Of course we do. But not exactly as serious as this. I believe no one could ever bring the uniqueness Zanele Muholi brings to her images. The more these kinds of projects are done, the more the society will understand us better and actually realise that we are human and that we are not going anywhere even though we are being killed daily for being ourselves.

Follow the project on Facebook and Twitter.

The exhibition is currently running until the 14th of October 2016. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and Saturday 10am to 1pm.