“I’m reclaiming my blackness, which I feel is continuously performed by the privileged other,” said Zanele Muholi, in an interview with BJP-online in July 2017. Almost two years later, the South-African photographer’s book of bold self-portraits, Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness (Aperture), has won the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation’s Best Photography Book Award.
Born in 1972 in Umlazi, a township close to Durban, South Africa, Muholi came to prominence in the early 2000s with her bold, political portraits of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and instersexual people in South Africa. Muholi defines herself as a visual activist, using photography to articulate contemporary identity politics.
The photographer wins the prize over two other shortlisted publications, Laia Abril’s On Abortion (Dewi Lewis Publishing), and Deana Lawson: An Aperture Monograph. In her winning project, she uses her own body to confront the politics of race and gender, questioning how the black female body is shown and perceived.
Along with the prize for best photobook, Jane Giles was awarded with the Best Moving Image Book Award, for her crowdfunded project Scala Cinema 1978-1993 (FAB Press). The book is a tribute to London’s most infamous and influential cinema during a post-punk, pre-internet era. Both winners have been awarded with a £5,000 cash prize.
“Due to the high calibre of entries for the 2019 prize, our judges faced an extremely difficult decision. We congratulate Zanele Muholi and Jane Giles on maintaining the highest standards for books of photography and the moving image,” said Sir Brian Pomeroy, Chairman of the Kraszna Krausz Foundation.