Zanele Muholi, ‘Lerato Dumse, Syracuse, New York’, 2015, Light Work

Zanele Muholi was born in Umlazi, Durban, and currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. She co-founded the Forum for Empowerment of Women as well as Inkanyiso, a forum for queer and visual activist media. Muholi’s self-proclaimed mission is “to re-write a black queer and trans visual history of South Africa for the world to know of our resistance and existence at the height of hate crimes in SA and beyond.” This striking and intimate portrait of her long-time collaborator Lerato Dumse was made during her Light Work residency. Muholi studied at the Market Photo Workshop in Newtown, Johannesburg, and completed an MFA at Ryerson University, Toronto, in 2009. She has won numerous awards including the Ryerson Alumni Achievement Award; a Prince Claus Award; and the Casa Africa award for best female photographer. Her Faces and Phases series has been shown at Documenta 13, the South African Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, the São Paulo Biennale, Brooklyn Museum, among other venues. She was shortlisted for the 2015 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize for her publication Faces and Phases: 2006-14 (Steidl/The Walther Collection, 2014). Muholi participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence Program in August 2015.

Signature: Signed and numbered by the artist

About Zanele Muholi

A photographer and self-proclaimed visual activist, Zanele Muholi explores black lesbian and gay identities and politics in contemporary South Africa. For her series “Faces and Phases” (2006-11), Muholi photographed more than 200 portraits of South Africa’s lesbian community. “The portraits are at once a visual statement and an archive,” she has said, “marking, mapping, and preserving an often invisible community for posterity.” Muholi’s sensitive portraits challenge the stigma surrounding gays and lesbians in South Africa, debunk the common rhetoric that homosexuality is un-African, and address the preponderance of hate crimes against homosexuals in her native country. Among other subjects, she has captured the survivors of “corrective rape”. In April 2012, thieves broke into Muholi’s Cape Town apartment and stole over 20 hard drives holding years of photographic documentation, suggesting the continued controversy and sensitivity surrounding the issues that Muholi’s works confront.

South African, b. 1972, Umlazi, Durban, South Africa