When we tell our body stories, what stories do we tell? And what stories are told for us? These are the questions that South African photographer, Zanele Muholi, asks us to consider. Muholi understands photography as a form of visual activism, a way of transforming the gaze from the oppressive/repressive regime of state control, in the form of identity cards “as capture, as arrest” (Baderoon, 404) into what she terms a collaborative “(auto)biographical” project (Baderoon, 407). Instead, images emanate from the perspectives of those who are photographed, a process which fundamentally reimagines the nature of visibility.
Central to this project is a focus on the face: “The face,” Muholi observes, “has a voice. The face means a presence and an existence” (Baderoon, 411). A speaking face allows for the possibility of an encounter – of mutual recognition. A speaking face tells stories, even in silence.
What stories does your face tell?