Abstract

This essay reflects principally on the work of South African artist Nicholas Hlobo, born in Cape Town in 1975, who has, in a relatively short space of time, achieved international art-world visibility for his sculptural objects made from rubber, fabric, and found objects (often including wood, soap, and colonial-era furniture). I draw for the purposes of comparison on the work of photographer Zanele Muholi (born in 1972 in Umlazi, Durban), an artist-activist whose primary concern is, in her own words, to present ‘positive imagery of black queers (especially lesbians) in South African society and beyond’ (Muholi 2010 online; Williamson 2009 130). Both artists are well known in South African art circles for work that, although in different media, intervenes in the fields of local gender politics and anxieties about the body politic and the politics of the body — this in a country in which, despite guarantees of freedom from discrimination on the basis of sexuality, it remains dangerous to be identified publicly as lesbian, gay, or transgender.

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