Zanele Muholi

Zanele Muholi, Hlonipha, Cassilhaus, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 2016. Courtesy Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York

For over a decade, South African filmmaker, photographer and visual activist Zanele Muholi has used photography to assert their right to occupy space. Concentrating their unrelenting gaze on underrepresented faces and scenes, Muholi pierces and dissects issues of race, sexuality and gender in South Africa. With this work, Muholi spotlights the histories of abused communities, showing how disconnections between political progressions and firmly-held social prejudices have continued to hold society back.  

Muholi’s body of work is an ever-evolving story of identity, courage and resistance to forces that silence maligned social groups. Arresting studies of marginalised subjects and candid scenes of the unseen everyday comprise a powerful record of life in a place where discrimination and violence against queer communities of colour remains widespread. In distilling the lived experiences of black lesbian, gay, transgender and intersex individuals in South Africa into these images, Muholi demands and commands the space that they and their people are due. 

Wominjeka (Welcome). We acknowledge the Yaluk-ut Weelam as the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet. Yaluk-ut Weelam means ‘people of the river camp’ and is connected with the coastal land at the head of Port Phillip Bay, extending from the Werribee River to Mordialloc. The Yaluk-ut Weelam are part of the Boon Wurrung, one of the five major language groups of the greater Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to the land, their ancestors and their elders—past, present and to the future.