Collaboration, Art, Social Change

Zanele Muholi speaking at The O.P.E. N
Visual activist Zanele Muholi gave a talk at The O.P.E.N in Singapore

Zanele Muholi visual artist
Zanele Muholi (with a mic) at the opening in Singapore

O.P.E.N. / Singapore International Festival of Arts 2014 (June 26 – July 12): Zanele Muholi attended the opening on June 26 and gave the talk: Collaboration, Art, Social Change (photos above). Her art project fo(u)nd with Faces and Phases is exhibitied at The O.P.E.N. The press release about her exihibition reads, “…Muholi captures the confidence, fearlessness and defiance of her subjects in a captivating visual history post-apartheid, while confronting stereotypes associated with gender and sexuality.”

Visual activist Zanele Muholi has also a solo show, Zanele Muholi: Faces and Phases at Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto, Canada June 18 – August 24.

Zanele Muholi’s Faces and Phases aims to address the representation of black lesbian and queer identity, focusing largely on post-apartheid South Africa. This ongoing series of large-format black and white photographs includes more than 240 portraits, of which 36 are exhibited in Toronto, Canada, to coincide with the celebration of WorldPride 2014.

Berlin: FINISSAGE of the Exhibition Zanele Muholi. Photography

June 29, 2014, 7pm at
Schwules Museum*
Lützowstraße 73
10785 Berlin, Germany

Event with director and actress Mojisola Adebayo. Zanele Muholi is also scheduled to attend. Film excerpts from the thematic drama “I Stand Corrected” on hate rape will be shown, followed by a discussion with Mojisola Adebayo and Zanele Muholi.

Current and Upcoming Group Exhibitions Featuring Works by Zanele Muholi

Where We’re At!: Other Voices on Gender at Bozar/Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels – part of the ‘summer of photography’ June 17 – August 31; Contemporary Art/South Africa at Yale University Art Gallery May 9 – September 14; Precarious Imaging at Raw Material Company, Dakar – initially until 18 July, but closed early due to homophobic vandalism(!); Worldwide Africa: Fashioning Personhood at Minneapolis Institute of Arts runs through August 3; and Distance and Desire: Encounters with the African Archive at the Walther Collection in Ulm, Germany, runs through 2015.

Related Link

Zanele Muholi is represented by the Stevenson art gallery in South Africa

New York: After Our Bodies Meet: From Resistance to Potentiality

Press Release by Leslie + Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art and Fresh Fruit Festival

Leslie-Lohman Museum presents an exhibition of queer feminist artists exploring the body as site of resistance, envisioning a positive queer future.

After Our Bodies Meet: From Resistance to Potentiality

Curated by Alexis Heller
Exhibition Dates: June 5 – July 27, 2014
Opening Reception: June 5, 6 – 8 pm
at Leslie + Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, 26 Wooster Street in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City.

After Our Bodies Meet: From Resistance to Potentiality opens at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art on June 5 and runs through July 27, 2014. Presented as part of the 12th annual All Out Arts Fresh Fruit Festival, the exhibition explores queer feminist artists’ responses to dominant notions about the body from the 1970s to present day. Reflecting the ever-growing diversity of feminist art, this exhibition provides a cross-cultural examination of how artists represent the body to challenge past and present forms of oppression and to envision a queer future.

After Our Bodies Meet: From Resistance to Potentiality, curated by Alexis Heller, traces the efforts of contemporary queer artists within the legacy of early feminist art. Bridging these historic and contemporary endeavors not only honors the pioneers of gender-conscious art but also highlights the evolution of feminist thought within artistic representations of queer bodies, including some that question the gender binary on which feminism was first conceived.

The works of Tee Corinne and Cathy Cade sought to document and empower the burgeoning lesbian feminist community, emphasizing the female body’s capacity for love, agency and pleasure outside of the heterosexual imagination. Today, South African artist and “visual activist” Zanele Muholi recognizes this same need to preserve marginalized histories, bringing attention to underrepresented populations of black lesbian and transgender individuals, as well as the targeted violence that threatens their existence. For her ongoing series Faces and Phases, Muholi’s black-and-white photographic portraits archive the diversity and resilience of her black queer community in South Africa and abroad, while for Isilumo siyaluma (2006-2011), Muholi generates a series of kaleidoscopic digital collages of menstrual blood stains to memorialize the rape and murder of black lesbians in South Africa.

Heather Cassils’ dynamic performance, Becoming An Image (2012), also evokes the brutalization of queer bodies as the artist’s mixed martial arts blows are imprinted onto a 1,500-pound block of clay. Staged in complete darkness, Cassils’ strenuous movements are only made visible by flash photography, capturing fleeting moments of the action, which, like the artist’s experience as a transgender man, is in a continuous process of change and becoming.

Sophia Wallace’s ongoing mixed media project CLITERACY, exposes the irony of society’s obsession with and ignorance of female sexuality. CLITERACY, 100 Natural Laws (2012) includes a monumental wall of texts which challenge phallocentric biases in science, law, philosophy, politics and the art world. Wallace’s focus on the clitoris and female pleasure serves to question and counteract the history of misinformation regarding women’s bodies and the concomitant oppression therein.

Inspired by Indian comic books, Hindu mythology and American science fiction Chitra Ganesh’s digital collages also draw from disparate materials and cultural sources to offer alternate narratives of female sexuality and power. Ganesh’s surrealistic and hybridized female forms collide beauty and abjection, commemorating marginalized and excluded figures from art, history and literature. In Ganesh’s work, the body serves as a site of transgression and revision, tearing apart stereotypes and histories only to reassemble them into a radical vision of corporeality, citizenship and desire.

This exhibition demonstrates how feminist artists have repositioned the political potential of activism into art, allowing critiques of the past to provide space for imagining new queer possibilities. Featuring work from Laura Aguilar, Cathy Cade, Heather Cassils, Tee A. Corinne, Zanele Muholi,Chitra Ganesh, Allyson Mitchell, Zanele Muholi, Catherine Opie, Sophia Wallace, and Chris E. Vargas, these artists subvert the mythologies and ideals surrounding lesbian and transgender bodies and foreground queer bodies obscured by invisibility.

There will be an Opening Reception on June 5th from 6 to 8 pm, as well as various events throughout the exhibition that explore these important issues and themes. Visit for a full schedule of events for All Out Arts Fresh Fruit Festival which will be held from July 7 to 20, 2014.

Schwules Museum* Berlin – Zanele Muholi Photograph

Press release

Zanele Muholi. Photography

at Schwules Museum* in Berlin
22 March to 9 June 2014
Curators: Birgit Bosold & Wolfgang Theis

The Schwules Museum* in collaboration with Amnesty International present an extensive exhibition of South African artist Zanele Muholi’s photographic works. You and your friends are cordially invited to:

a panel discussion at 6pm and

the opening of the exhibition at 8pm on 21 March 2014.

„Love is a Human Right – Sexualized Violence against Lesbians in South-Africa” – with Zanele Muholi, Sherlock Fortuin (human rights activist) and Selmin Çaliskan (Secretary General of Amnesty International Germany).
Moderation: Ines Pohl (Editor-in-Chief of taz)

An internationally recognized photographer, filmmaker and activist, Zanele Muholi deals with the experiences of the ‘black’ queer and especially lesbian community in South Africa and other African countries. In a repressive social and political climate which condemns queer ways of living and in which lesbians, gay men and trans* are faced with constant discrimination and persecution, her works represent acts of self-assertion and empowerment.

Her photographs intervene, are themselves deeds, political activism and resistance. She achieves a thematization of violence which does not portray individuals as victims. On the contrary, her photographs depict people who gaze confidently into the camera, make their own decisions and have voices of their own.

The exhibition presents and exclusive selection of Muholi’s body of work. Alongside an assortment of pieces chosen from amongst the artist’s early work (2003-2005), the Schwules Museum exhibits images from the series Beloved (2005-2010), Being (2007) and Faces and Phases (ongoing since 2006), as well as a selection of Muholi’s works on trans*persons and the video works Difficult Love (2010) and @24 (2011-2012).

Zanele Muholi – Activist, photographer and filmmaker

lives and works in Johannesburg, recipient of the LGBTI Art and Culture Award in 2005 and 2009, as well as the Freedom of Expression Award from Index on Censorship in 2013. At the biennial of African photography Les Rencontres de Bamako (Bamako Encounters), Muholi was commended as best female photographer with the Jean-Paul Blachère and Casa Africa Awards. She has exhibited in numerous solo and group shows, including Le Case d’Arte, Milan; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Stevenson, Cape Town; Documenta 13, Kassel; Kunsthalle Wien project space, Vienna; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo. In 2006, Zanele Muholi founded the online project Inkanyiso, “queer activism = queer media”.

Zanele Muholi at Williamstown College

Zanele Muholi - invitation

Photographer and visual activist Zanele Muholi will show new photographs and a new video produced in Durban as a part of a presetation exploring Black Frees (the generation born post-apartheid South Africa: known as Mandela’s great-grandchildren), and how each person expresses him/herself queerly at the time of troubling hate crimes in SA. The young adults she depicts are those born in 1990 – 1994, and openly gay/lesbian/trans with/in South African borders.

Black Queers – Born Frees in South Africa

Smith College, Neilson Library Browsing Room
February 4, 5pm
Free and open to the entire Five College Community

Queer and Trans Art-iculations: Collaborative Art for Social Change

Press release


Queer and Trans Art-iculations: Collaborative Art for Social Change

Zanele Muholi and Gabrielle Le Roux
[at WITS ART MUSEUM, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa]
Opening Wed 29 January 18h00 for 18h30.
Exhibition dates: January 30 – March 30, 2014

Wits Art Museum, in partnership with Wits Centre for Diversity Studies and Inkanyiso, is proud to announce the exhibition Queer and Trans Art-iculations: Collaborative Art for Social Change. This important project features the work of two visual activists: Zanele Muholi (Mo(u)rning) and Gabrielle Le Roux (Proudly African & Transgender and Proudly Trans in Turkey). The exhibition coincides with the official launch of the Wits Centre for Diversity Studies.

Homosexual and gender non-conforming people are discriminated against, victimised, penalized and criminalized. As insiders and concerned citizens within the LGBTI community who make art, Muholi and Le Roux employ art-activism as a resistance tool and a way to reveal how the LGBTI community exists within society. The works of both artists speak to the complexities, challenges, freedoms and dangers of living beyond the gender binary.

Recently, the Ugandan and Nigerian governments have enacted anti-homosexuality legislation which will put so many citizens in physical danger and deprive them of their freedom of expression and human rights. In Turkey there is a spiraling number of hate murders of Trans women in particular, for the majority of whom sex-work is the only available employment as a result of discrimination and social exclusion. South Africa is notorious for the rampant hate crimes that have claimed so many young lives especially black lesbians residing in the townships. These are some of the issues that the joint exhibition addresses. While Proudly African & Transgender and Proudly Trans in Turkey, are created in collaboration with trans and intersex activists from southern and East Africa, and Turkey, Mo(u)rning engages with the experiences of black lesbians and queer people particularly in South Africa.

For the duration of the exhibition, facilitators who can speak to the issues represented in the work from lived experience will be in attendance to assist with queries and provide impromptu guided tours of the work, free of charge. WAM has also created an interactive space for visitors to respond to the exhibition and share their experiences and thoughts.

Programming and special events:

Artist TALKABOUT with Gabrielle Le Roux, 8 February 12h00
Family TALKABOUT with Leigh Blanckenberg, 15 February 12h00
Artist TALKABOUT with Zanele Muholi, 22 February 12h00
Exhibition facilitators will be available Wed-Sun 10h00-16h00

Opening Night:

Keynote speech by Pregs Govender, Deputy Chair of the South African Human Rights Commission.
Performance by Zanele Muholi on the opening night to begin at 19h00.

For more information, please contact Wits Art Museum on or call 011 717 1378