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Black History Month
Fresh from recent, well-received solo shows in New York City at the Brooklyn Museum and Yancey Richardson Gallery, South African photographer and activist Zanele Muholi will discuss her work, including the photography and documentary films she produced with and about black lesbians.
The year 2016 marks an important milestone in South Africa’s evolution. The country celebrates twenty years of a progressive constitution, which was amended in 1996 to include key protections for sexual minorities in its Bill of Rights. In 2016, South Africa will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the youth uprising in Soweto and the 60th anniversary of the multiracial Women’s March to Pretoria to protest the country’s passbook laws. Muholi will deliver a lecture entitled Zinathi, in which she will explore the visual activism associated with these two pivotal moments in the history of South Africa and highlight activism in the post-Apartheid era.
Over the past ten years, Muholi has created a series of portraits of South African queer women over time in her ongoing series, Faces and Phases. During the same period, she has documented crime scenes of lesbian murders, funerals, and public protests. Taken together, the videos and portraits advocate for visibility, resistance, and urgency.
Zanele Muholi was born in Umlazi, Durban, South Africa, and now lives in Johannesburg. She co-founded the Forum for the Empowerment of Women in 2002. In 2009, she founded Inkanyiso, a forum for queer and visual activist media. Her mission is to rewrite a black queer and trans visual history of South Africa for the world to understand queer and trans resistance and existence at the height of hate crimes in South Africa and beyond.
She studied advanced photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Newtown, Johannesburg, and completed an MFA in Documentary Media at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada, in 2009. She has won numerous awards, including the Ryerson Alumni Achievement Award; the Fine Prize for an emerging artist at the 2013 Carnegie International; a Prince Claus Award; the Index on Censorship/Freedom of Expression Art Award; the 2013 Feather of the Year Award; a 2013 Mbokodo Award for Creative Photography, and was named Campaigner of the Year by Glamour Magazine in 2013. In 2009, she was named by the Casa Africa award for best female photographer and was given a Fondation Blachère award at the Les Rencontres de Bamako biennial of African photography. Muholi was awarded the 2016 Infinity Award for Documentary and Photojournalism from The International Center of Photography.
Her Faces and Phases series has been shown at Documenta 13; the South African Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale; and the 29th São Paulo Biennale, among other venues. Monographs of her work include Faces and Phases 2006-2014 (Steidl/The Walther Collection, 2014), a work that was shortlisted for the 2015 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize; Zanele Muholi: African Women Photographers #1 (Casa Africa and La Fábrica, 2011); Faces and Phases (Prestel, 2010); and Only half the picture (Michael Stevenson, 2006). Muholi is an Honorary Professor of the University of the Arts, in Bremen, Germany.