Zeeba: Since the name of the feature is Who Is we find it appropriate to ask this question. Who is Zanele Muholi, where is she from and what is she about ?
Zanele: First and foremost Zanele Muholi Is a visual activist. She was born in 1972 in Umlazi, Durban, and lives in Johannesburg. She co-founded the Forum for Empowerment of Women (FEW) in 2002, and in 2009 founded Inkanyiso (www.inkanyiso.org), a forum for queer and visual (activist) media.
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???. She continues to train and co-facilitates photography workshops for young women in the townships.
Zeeba: What inspired you to take the career path you took – Photography?
Zanele: I chose photography to highlight massacres, homophobia, hate crimes and rape faced by black South African LGBTI individuals and to document black history especially of black lesbians and transgender people.
Zeeba: Interesting, What motives Zanele?
Zanele: Seeing black people have a voice and seeing black women having photography as a career
Zeeba: Please tell us about your work and the time you spent overseas?
Zanele: My work forms three current series??Faces and Phases, the portrait series looking at black South African lesbian and transgender individuals;??Brave Beauties,??a photo-essay featuring gender-nonconforming pageant winners and drag-performers; and??Somnyama Ngonyama (Hail, The Dark Lioness),??the body of work confronting the politics of race and pigment in the photographic archive though self-portraiture.
I did my first solo show at Stedelijk Museum in London as the first artist in Africa to show at the museum, Autograph, The Face: A Search for Clues??at Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Dresden (2017);??INTIMACY IS POLITICAL. Sex, gender, language, power??at Centro Cultural Metropoliano, Quito (2017); Art/Afrique, le nouvel atelier at Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (2017); Kyotographie International Photography Festival, Kyoto (2017)
Zeeba: What has been the highlight of your career?
Zanele: Documenting black history for over 10 years. Producing the first lesbians and transgender people publication Faces and Phases.
Zeeba: Did you ever face any challenges, if so, what are they and how did you overcome them?
Zanele:?? I once lost five years of my work in a burglary at my Vredehoek flat in Cape Town. More than 20 external hard drives were stolen. I did not back-down or despair. The vision to wanting to document black history kept me going to date I don’t let anything distract me from my vision no matter how big of a distraction they may be. The plan is to have 365 self portraits.
Zeeba: oh Wow! Can we expect wedding bells from you anytime soon? *giggles*
Zanele: No, no, no
Zeeba: What don’t you like about your job?. If any.
Zanele: Nothing for now.
Zeeba: Any message for young aspiring photographers?
Zanele: Photography changes lives. It saved my life.
“Photography saved my life. It was the only thing that ever made sense to me. I use art as my own means of articulation. And it heals me. When I needed therapy and I was not willing to sit with a shrink, I started to take photographs, and I was soothed. To the your I would say do what makes you feel complete as an individual.
We Thank You!
Zeeba & Team.
Images supplied by Zanele Muholi’s Team