Zanele Muholi

1972 · South Africa

Artist biography

Self-proclaimed visual activist, Zanele Muholi’s photography explores the political and the personal of black and gay identities in South Africa. Their sensitive portraits put humanity at the fore, and challenges the stigma and stereotypes that the LGBTQIA+ communities face in contemporary South Africa. They have explained that their portraits are simultaneously “a visual statement and an archive”, with their series “Faces and Phases” portraying over 200 women in South Africa’s lesbian community. Their work is a battle cry: a fight against the hate crimes experienced by gay South Africans and a proud debunking of the conception that homosexuality is inherently un-African.

Born 1972 in Umlazi, South Africa, Zanele Muholi studied Advanced Photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg, and completed an MFA in Documentary Media at Ryerson University in Toronto in 2009. Muholi became an Honorary Professor at the University of the Arts in Bremen in 2013.

Muholi has been the recipient of numerous awards such as the Rees Visionary Award, Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres, Mbokodo Award for Visual Arts, ICP Infinity Award for Documentary and Photojournalism, Emerging Artist at Carnegie International, Prince Claus Award, Index on Censorship’s Freedom of Expression Art Award, and Casa Africa Award for Best Female Photographer. Their work has been the subject of numerous solo shows in venues such as the Seattle Art Museum, Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, Fotografiska Stockholm, Stedelijk Museum, Brooklyn Museum, and the Durban Art Gallery, among many others.

Zanele Muholi

  • Artworks in Collections 3
  • Exhibitions 7

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