Zanele Muholi and Framing Ideas


Zanele Muholi

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A current and contemporary way to show photography, which is also professional and accepted, is the use of pins. Photographers use them to draw attention to the physical photograph.

Zanele Muholi had an exhibition on at the ‘Photographers Gallery’, “Faces and Phases” (2006-14). Here she used a white flat head pin to display her work. She has also used white frames to display her work in the past. I am also contemplating the use of very simple white frames.


The visual research I have produced looking at her display ideas has allowed me to think critically about my display options. I shall explore these options for my own work in the following pages. When viewing Zanele Moholi’s work I personally prefer the white frames. I feel these are not distracting to the photography, but protect and display the work in a traditional manner. The pins work well as well, especially when filling a whole wall from top to bottom. However, I am personally still drawn to the white frame option overall.


Framing Ideas:

Having looked at Zanele Muholi’s work ‘Faces and Phases’ being shown at the Photographers Gallery, I was inspired to look into framing options. Above you can see a few different framing options such as, extravagant white frames, black frames with large mounts, frames lent against walls with the print actually displayed on the wall itself, a modernistic contemporary option.


I decided to look at the Photographers Gallery again and more precisely at Charlotte Dumas’ ‘Anima & Widest Priaries’, this used white frames, similarly to Zanoli Mahuli. However, these white frames had mounts in them, giving the photographic print more white space around it. This allows each print to have its own space and seems to celebrate the individual print more as it draws attention to the individual photographic print inside. It’s separated from others in the set, as there is more white space between them. Zanele Muholi’s work is quite tightly packed, whereas Charlotte Dumas’ work is spread. I shall have to think about how I want my work to be read when thinking about display options.


At the bottom of this page, I have produced a small mood board of other frames used at exhibition, such as tightly packed grids of white frames, grids of frames with a larger frames next to it, this draws attention to one particular print. An array of different sized square frames shown in different shapes such as 2 x 2 or 2×1 or even just in a linear layout.





Here is a mock up of the framing option that I am considering. This option gives each individual photographic print more white space around it. It allows each print to have its own space and seems to celebrate the specific print as it draws attention to the individual photographic print inside. It separates each print from each other, giving each print space to breathe.


Further Display Ideas and Reflection


Further photo-album inspired displays…


Having made the decision to edit the middle set of the Digitally processed images out; as I didn’t think it was necessary for the understanding of the work and it didn’t seem appropriate as the other processes were based on darkroom prints, I had to rethink the display options of my final piece. Originally I was thinking about how I could be influenced by the photo album with a tilted display option and differing sized of prints. However, I am now limited to 6 prints and didn’t feel that this would particularly work in the same manner. I could no longer have a smaller middle sat with tilted sets surrounding it. I therefore rethought how I could be inspired by photo album. I had noticed that the photo album included a dark page and white borders so I experimented with this in the display shown below. Having thought this through I thought perhaps in a gallery it might not be appropriate to have a black wall, so I then rethought this process and thought about having a white wall with black frames to emulate the boarders of the prints on the page. Perhaps this idea could be developed once I have researched exhibition strategies further.

Reflection on still life and display:


When I was composing these still life photographs I was careful what objects were photographed together. The first composition was displayed together as they are all photographically related, the camera and the photo album and the prints from the 40’s. The middle composition is based on a memory my mum retold of my granddads Ayah (nurse maid) walking round in Indian slippers. This was also related to food, as she would serve the meals, so I grouped this with the story my mum also told me about my grandad’s culinary creation ‘Monkey’s Toenail nuts’. All the music related items that were kept from this era are also clustered together. I am making sense of my ancestor’s stories, by physically connecting objects. It’s the nostalgia, trying to make sense of the past that I don’t have direct access to.


I feel I paired these subconsciously, as when I stood back to look at my work I noticed that they had a connection. I started off with the photo album as that’s where the project began, my mum talks to me in the audio about the monkey’s toes nails and grandad’s Ayah, and my great aunt Rita used to go to dances with my grandad and my grandad would play at these dances. So the portrait prints do pair with the still life setups. I realise that this could seem very deliberate; it appears as a framework that pairs up.

Project Overview:


  • 6 fibre based square images
  • 3 portraits that are then bleached, showing that you can’t control what memories are lost and what memories you keep, like the bleach you cant control what goes and what stays.
  • 3 still life prints, objects that they held onto through the diaspora. Exploring my Anglo Indian heritage through the objects.
  • A set of headphones with an audio being played
  • Audio includes music played by my Grandad, a poem defining who are Anglo Indians are, and voice recordings that I conducted with my Anglo Indian relatives
  • Exploring my roots
  • Relatives that I have been in touch with have said that they struggle explaining to people what it means to be Anglo Indian; they aren’t British or Indian, but their own culture.
  • Reconnecting with a lost family past, and understanding what it means to be Anglo Indian.
  • A project exploring a lost culture, that is part of my heritage
  • Through montage, portraiture and still life I am trying to reconnect with this past
  • Trying to make permanent memories, as we cannot control what memories are lost over time.
  • Reconnecting with memories in the past through process. The portraiture is re-connecting to my mother, my Great Aunt, and other relatives.
  • Engaging with artefacts


Reflection on class feedback


Reflection on Class Feedback:


I have chosen to edit the middle set out, as they are digitally processed and I feel they are not relevant. I have been receiving feedback that it is quite cluttered with three set/rows of imagery. They are not necessary to the understanding of the work, so I shall carry on exploring display ideas but with the 6 prints instead of the 9.


Reflection on display ideas…


I felt that using process or source material as a reference or inspiration was a way to start thinking about display ideas. I had produced my prints in the darkroom, hanging them on string with pegs to dry them at the end of the day.

However, by going through a process of testing things out I have decided against this display option. When this exists in a gallery space they have a whole other set of associations. The darkroom process doesn’t come across; unfortunately it has a common association with clotheslines and my idea doesn’t come through effectively.

Audio drafts

There were many edits to my audio, so I have chosen to upload the main changes to my drafts.

Above is one of the first key edits. Having produced this I can see that it needs careful editing as there are many stories that can be edited out or shortened. The whole edit is 29mins: 26secs, I feel this could be shortened to be more concise. The next step I shall take is editing down stories, and using the music as a background to the poem being read.

Above is the second key edit. Here I have shortened the overall length, by cutting stories that I felt weren’t relevant to my project. I also layered music over the top of the poem. I think this has worked well. For my final edits I shall aim to shorten the piece a little more, I am aiming for my final audio to be around 20minutes as I feel this is a sufficient time to cover the narrative and culture of Anglo Indians history in my family, without being too short and cutting important parts out. The music I recorded from one of my grandad’s records (of him playing) has a quality to it that allows the listener to place it in history; the natural crackles on the recording add to the piece. I intend to use the music throughout the whole audio piece using my skills in Adobe Audition to lower the levels when someone is speaking; using it as an audio background.

My Final edit took some improving. Using Adobe Audition and Premiere Pro, I edited the cuts together to create a flowing audio. This proved to be a challenge at times as the different audio pieces had slightly different levels and background noises to mesh together. I wanted my final audio to be seamless. I am satisfied with my final audio piece; it successfully encapsulates my families’ Anglo Indian narrative and history.

Inspired by the Photoalbum


Inspired by the visuals of the photo album pages…


Having reflected on the grid like display options that I had to come up with before, I feel that these could be too similar to typology and be read as a comparative piece. I therefore decided to try out this photo album page format experimenting with different sized prints and tilted display options. The inspiration for this display option came from the photo album of my grandad. The dark surround is like the dark page of the album (as you can see on the right). I want to emulate this as I was influenced by the creative display of askew photographs, the black page, and the white boarders and the intimacy of hand written writing.

Bleaching and Tinting



Bleaching and Tinting:


Final Prints…


Having experimented with the processes before I knew that I would have to produce multiple prints to choose from. Here I have printed smaller versions of the fibre-based prints having been through the process of bleach and tinting. I lay the prints out in front of me whilst deciding which of them would be chosen for my final piece.


The bleaching process cannot be controlled; it is extremely hard to regulate where the bleach dissolves the print and where it doesn’t. Here you can see the final selected prints (marked in black pen), next to the choices that I had. I was careful not to obscure the face of each portrait, as I wanted each person to be recognisable. Whilst choosing which prints to choose for the bleached portraits I tried to choose prints that had not been obscured over the face. I also tried to choose prints where the white dissolved patches had not spread too far and dissolved too much of the print. I tried to choose prints that had an aesthetically pleasing dissolved effect to them.


Having used ink tinting in my test prints I knew that it was going to be a challenge. I decided to practice each composition so that I could reflect on the colours used and rectify any mistakes. This was a good decision to make, as on each print I wanted to adjust and improve something. On the first print, I had coloured the camera case a little too bright and bold, I altered this on my final version. On the second print I had coloured the nuts far to bright a yellow, and I had slipped with the paint into the background, producing a pink mark beside the shoes. Lastly, in the third print I had used too dark a colour, and had produced obvious brush strokes, especially on the labels of the music magazines. I learnt from these mistakes and I am much happier with my second attempts (marked in black pen).