South African photographer and filmmaker Zanele Muholi was born in Umlazi, South Africa. Muholi self-identifies as a visual activist, and their development as a photographer is deeply intertwined with their advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community in South Africa and beyond.
Muholi has produced several photographic series researching the severe malfunction that exists in post-apartheid South Africa between the equality promoted by its 1996 Constitution and the ongoing bigotry toward and violent acts targeting individuals within the LGBTQ community. Muholi’s images display the depth and diversity of this group in South Africa and in different countries that the artist has visited.
In the individual black-and-white portraits of lesbians, women, and trans men that summarize Muholi’s ongoing Faces and Phases series, the sitters’ expressions and explicit dress challenge the frontal pose of the traditional portrait.
Solo exhibitions of Muholi’s work have been hosted all over the world: by Casa África, Goethe-Institut Johannesburg, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena, and Schwules Museum, Berlin , among others.
Muholi lives and works in Johannesburg.