Zanele Muholi (South African, born 1972), Misiwe IV, Bijlmer, Amsterdam from the series Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness, 2017. © Zanele Muholi.

The Ringling Opens New Photography Exhibition Being Seen: Recent Acquisitions from The Ringling Photography Collection

Sarasota, Florida- The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibition: Being Seen: Recent Acquisitions from The Ringling Photography Collection.

Zanele Muholi (South African, born 1972), Misiwe IV, Bijlmer, Amsterdam from the series Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness, 2017. © Zanele Muholi.
Zanele Muholi (South African, born 1972), Misiwe IV, Bijlmer, Amsterdam from the series Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness, 2017. © Zanele Muholi.

Curated from The Ringling’s photography collection, this exhibition features works by photographers who examine the complexities of identity and the staging of selfhood. Consisting primarily of self-portraits and portraits of empowered subjects, these works explore personal agency at the intersection of politics and the female body.

Many of the artists in the exhibition are recognized as leading voices in contemporary art and offer diverse perspectives on issues surrounding power, sexuality and self-representation. Each photograph presents a unique invitation to renew the dialogue on the authority of the gaze in the twentieth-first century.

Among the highlights of the exhibition are recent additions to the Museum’s permanent collection of works by contemporary artists, including Zanele Muholi, Deana Lawson and Rania Matar. Christopher Jones, Stanton B. and Nancy W. Kaplan Curator of  Photography and Media Arts said, “The Ringling is thrilled to exhibit works by Muholi, a South African visual activist who advocates for the black LGBTQ+ community. Works from her series of bold self-portraits Sonnyamma Ngonami, Hail the Dark Lioness, will be featured. In these images, Muholi embraces and intensifies their blackness, provoking the viewer to acknowledge South Africa’s political history and recognize the presence of queer black identity. Deana Lawson‘s sensational tableaux re-enact and elevate the nuances of her generation’s black experience while centering on expressions of intimacy and female-centric desire. Even though Lawson’s subjects are often depicted in domestic interiors or everyday moments, her work captures the complexities of their psyches as they appear confident and vulnerable simultaneously.”

Other works such as Lebanese- Palestinian-American artist Rania Matar’s project A Girl in Her Room presents moving portraits of young women in the U.S. and in Lebanon. Matar’s project is an intimate exploration of the material conditions inside the personal spaces her subjects create for themselves as they navigate from adolescence into adulthood. The viewer is invited to reflect on the markers of difference between these two cultures, but also consider the possibilities of a universally shared female experience.

Being Seen also includes numerous works by significant women photographers from the 20th century, added to The Ringling’s collection in recent years. This exhibition offers visitors a rare opportunity to explore themes of agency, visibility, and gender through the lens of a broader historical context.

Being Seen will be on view until Jan. 3, 2021 in the Searing Wing. Visitors are encouraged to pre-purchase admission online at ringling.org. The Ringling strongly suggests that all visitors wear masks or facial coverings and maintain social distancing on campus.

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