Prof. Sir. Zanele Muholi is a South African visual activist and photographer.
Through years of documentation, archiving and photographing mainly members of the LGBTQIA+ Muholi has formed many relationships with photographed participants featuring in Faces and Phases, Brave Beauties, Beaulahs amongst other projects. When not photographing others Muholi has produced self-portraits a series titled: Somnyama Ngonyama, which was published by Aperture in 2018
The activism that drives Muholi’s work has led the philanthropist to continue expanding mobile projects under Inkanyiso (www.inkanyiso.org), which they founded in 2009, as a forum for queer and visual (activists) media.
In 2018 Women’s Mobile Museum was successfully launched in Philadelphia USA. The Mobile School of Photography was launched in Durban, December 2018 and Muholi plans to reach out to 25 schools by end of 2019 to mark 25 years of Democracy. Muholi returned to Umbelebele High School and Market Photo Workshop in 2019, as an alumni involved in educational programs. These projects are an extension of Muholi's Photo Experience (Photo XP) trainings, which dates back to 2004. Photo XP has resulted in Muholi conducting photography workshops in multiple South African communities, neighbouring Lesotho, Benin, Zimbabwe including Europe in Italy and Norway. The Mobile Mentorship and Cultural Exchange Program has seen Muholi travel with various participants and collaborators locally and to international exhibitions, residencies, art fairs and workshops.
In 2002 they co-founded the Forum for Empowerment of Women (FEW).
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’.
In 2003 Muholi studied Advanced Photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Newtown, Johannesburg. In 2009 completed an MFA: Documentary Media at Ryerson University, Toronto. In 2018 Royal Photographic Society in London awarded Muholi an honorary fellowship.
Muholi is also an Honorary Professor at the University of the Arts/Hochschule für Künste Bremen, Germany and has won numerous awards including Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres from France Embassy (2017) and was named the Prince Claus Foundation Laureate in 2013; ICP Infinity Award for Documentary and Photojournalism (2016); Africa’s Out! Courage and Creativity Award (2016); Outstanding International Alumni Award from Ryerson University (2016); the recent Amref Rees Visionary Award(2019) and Muholi’s Somnyama Ngonyama book has recently received the Kraszna-Krausz Book award in London on 16 May 2019.