Upcoming Event – Zanele Muholi: In Conversation

Zanele Muholi, Vredehoek, 2012 © Zanele Muholi

Zanele Muholi, Vredehoek, 2012 © Zanele Muholi


We’re very excited to be able announce an up-coming talk with the South African Photographer and visual activist Zanele Muholi.

On Friday 22nd May, 7:30-8:30pm, Zanele will be speaking about her photography work and campaigning to combat discrimination and violence against LGBTQ communities.

NB: This is a free event but booking is essential, so please see the event details here.




'Martin Machapa' (from the series Beulahs), 2010. © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Michael Stevenson, Cape Town

‘Martin Machapa’ from the series Beulahs, 2010. © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of Michael Stevenson, Cape Town

Zanele identifies herself as a visual activist and her work addresses the reality of what it is to be LGBTQ in South Africa.

Having been excluded from any formal gay movement until post-Apartheid, she attempts to address the issues of violation and prejudice that these communities still face, despite South Africa’s seemingly progressive constitution.

In one of her series, titled Beulahs, Zanele presents young gay men, who use costume and pose to play with and invert normative gender codes.

Zanele has exhibited internationally and currently has an exhibition of 87 works, Isibonelo/Evidence, running at the Brooklyn Museum, New York (1st May – 1st November 2015).

She has also been nominated for the 2015 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. An exhibition of this year’s shortlist is currently being held at The Photographer’s Gallery, London (17th April – 7th June), with the winner to be announced on 28th May.


Amogelang Senokwane, 2009. © Zanele Muholi

Amogelang Senokwane, 2009. © Zanele Muholi


Some of you may recognise Zanele’s work from its inclusion in the V&A exhibition ‘Figures & Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography’ back in 2011.

This exhibition highlighted the work of 17 South African photographers, all of whom live and work in the country and whose images were made between 2000 and 2010.

Following the exhibition, the V&A acquired four photographs by Zanele from the ongoing series ‘Faces and Phases’.

Through this series, Zanele aims to reflect a more representative LGBTQ society by photographing individuals from across the spectrum.

The portraits are taken outdoors with a hand-held camera to retain spontaneity and often shown in a grid to highlight difference and diversity.



Kekeletso Khena, Green Market Square Cape Town, from the series Faces and Phases, 2012 © Zanele Muholi

Kekeletso Khena, Green Market Square Cape Town, from the series Faces and Phases, 2012 © Zanele Muholi

In a 2010 interview with Tamar Garb, Zanele explained:

‘”Faces and Phases”, is a group of black and white portraits that I have been working on from 2006 until now – it has become a lifetime project. The project is about me, the community that I’m part of. I was born in the township: I grew up in that space.

Most of us grew up in a household where heterosexuality was the norm. When you grow up, you think that the only thing that you have to become as a maturing girl or woman is to be with a man; you have to have children, and also you need to have lobola or “bride price” paid for you.

For young men, the expectation for them is to be with women and have wives and procreate: that’s the kind of space which most of us come from.

We are seen as something else by society – we are seen as deviants.

We’re not going to be here forever, and I wanted to make sure that we leave a history that is tangible to people who come after us.’