Zanele Muholi is a transformative South African visual activist and photographer, celebrated for their unflinching exploration of race, gender, and sexuality. Born in 1972 in Umlazi, Durban, Muholi cultivated their artistic prowess by studying Advanced Photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg, later acquiring a Master's degree in Fine Arts from the University of the Witwatersrand.
In 2002, they co-founded the Forum for Empowerment of Women, a platform geared towards creating visibility and providing a voice for Black lesbian women. Continuing their advocacy, in 2004, they founded Inkanyiso, an organization promoting queer and visual activism.
Muholi's powerful body of work serves as a poignant documentation of the experiences and struggles of Black LGBTQ+ communities in South Africa. Key projects such as 'Faces and Phases' (2006–present) and 'Somnyama Ngonyama' (2012-2015) challenge the conventional norms and incite socio-political discourse.
Over their career, Muholi has been recognized with numerous accolades, including the ICP Infinity Award for Documentary and Photojournalism in 2016, and being bestowed the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2020.
Through their audacious artistry, Zanele Muholi continues to defy boundaries, fostering a greater understanding and acceptance of marginalized identities, and securing their prominent stature within the global contemporary art landscape.