Sir Zanele Muholi’s Somnyama Ngonyama To Receive Highest Accolades!!!

Art Ball, not a typical New York City charity gala will honour South Africa artist and LGBTQI+ visual activist Zanele Muholi with the Rees Visionary Award. Named for Amref’s late founder, surgeon and artist Dr. Tom Rees, the Rees Visionary Award is given to artists Art Ball feel are creating exceptional work that educates, inspires, and emboldens the viewer through these challenging times. Muholi’s work, especially Somnyama Ngonyama, Faces and Phases and Brave Beauties is featured and taught in many universities and exhibited around the world addresses issues of human rights, especially that of the LGBTQI+ community, is vital and powerful.  Last year the Rees Visionary Award was awarded toToyin Ojih Odutola from Nigeria.

Art Ball is a celebration of African cultures – of African art, African music, and African healthcare solutions. It is a Contemporary African Art auction, an immersive learning experience, and a party.

The event is set to take place on Saturday, April 27th to raise money for Amref’s world-renown health programs, and for what Swizz Beatz deemed the most epically diverse event of the year!

About Muholi

Zanele Muholi is a visual activist and photographer born in Umlazi, Durban, and living in Johannesburg.

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’.

Muholi co-founded the Forum for Empowerment of Women (FEW) in 2002, and in 2009 founded Inkanyiso (, a forum for queer and visual (activist) media.

They continue to train and co-facilitate photography workshops for young women in the townships.

Muholi studied Advanced Photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Newtown, Johannesburg, and in 2009 completed an MFA: Documentary Media at Ryerson University, Toronto.

In 2013 they became an Honorary Professor at the University of the Arts/Hochschule für Künste Bremen, Germany.

Aperture granted a Lucie Award for publishing Muholi’s 2018 Somnyama Ngonyama Photo Book.

Muholi was shortlisted for the 2015 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize for her publication Faces and Phases 2006-14(Steidl/The Walther Collection).

Other publications includes:

  1. Only half the Picture (2006)
  2. African Women Photographers #1 (Casa Africa and La Fábrica, 2011);
  3. Faces and Phases (Prestel, 2010);
  4. Faces and Phases (Steidl, 2014);
  5. Somnyama Ngonyama (2018).

In 2017 conceptualized Women Mobile Museum, a collaboration with Philadelphia Photo Art Center (PPAC).

In 2017, received Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters).

In 2018 Muholi’s Somnyama Ngonyama won Aperture a Lucie Award.

In 2018, Muholi started Women Mobile Museum in Philadelphia and collaborated with Philadelphia Photo Art Center.

In 2018 Mobile School of Photography under the banner of ongoing PhotoXP is initiated by Muholi and co-facilitators are brought on board with their expertise to educate, produce, disseminate and archive information that matter to larger audiences.

Yaya Mavundla Consultant.


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