November 2, 2020
The non-binary photographer chronicles the harsh realities of life for LGBTQ+ people in a hostile country. Ahead of a major Tate show, the artist reveals why ‘just existing is political’
Amid the plethora of essays in the catalogue for Zanele Muholi’s forthcoming retrospective at Tate Modern, there is a moving testimony by Lungile Dladla, a South African lesbian. Entitled I Am Not a Victim but a Victor, it recounts how, on an evening in February 2010, she and a friend were accosted by an armed stranger, who ushered them into a field and ordered them to lie face down with their hands behind their backs.
“We did as told,” she writes, “because we feared for our lives as he had a gun in his hand and threatened to use it if we did not do as he said. He undressed us and said, ‘Today ngizoni khipha ubutabane.’” (“Today I will rid you of this gayness.”)