Zanele Muholi

Zanele Muholi (born South Africa, 1972) currently lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.

She studied at the Market Photo Workshop (Johannesburg, South Africa) in 2003 and received an MFA from Ryerson University (Toronto, Canada) in 2009.

Zanele Muholi’s ‘visual activism’ was honoured with a Prince Claus Award in September 2013. Muholi received the Index Arts Award, Index on Censorship (London, UK) in 2013, was awarded the Ida Ely Rubin Artist-in-Residence, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, USA) in 2009 and the BHP Billiton/Wits University Visual Arts Fellowship (Johannesburg, South Africa) in 2006.

She has been included in the 55th Venice Biennial (Venice, Italy) in 2013, dOCUMENTA (13) (Kassel, Germany) in 2012 and the 29th Sao Paulo Biennial (Sao Paulo, Brazil) in 2010.

Muholi has had solo exhibitions at Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena (Rome, Italy) in 2013, Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos (Lagos, Nigeria) in 2009 and the Johannesburg Art Gallery (Johannesburg, South Africa) in 2004.

She has been included in group exhibitions at the Mori Art Museum (Tokyo, Japan) in 2013, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, USA) in 2011 and the Victoria & Albert Museum (London, UK) in 2011.

Muholi’s work is included in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art (New York, USA), the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, USA) and the Musée national d'art modern, Centre Pompidou (Paris, France).

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“My project for films4peace explores a disturbing part of South Africa’s social landscapes, where not only my life but that of black lesbian and trans women are constantly exposed to danger.

My project attempts to reclaim citizenship and calls for an end to Queercide—a term I coined for the systematic atrocities and hate crimes against lesbians, gay men and trans people in my country. The project is motivated by the ongoing brutal murders of black lesbians in Post-Apartheid South Africa. We, as LGBTI communities have been assulted by an epidemic of violent hate crimes, including callous murders and ‘curative’ rapes. Many of our communities are then silenced by the fear of re-victimisation.

My film captures a scene at the end of someone’s life. In a deserted field we see witnesses to the act of retrieving the dead—but why are there never any witnesses to the act of ending that life ?

I have kept the visuals and the story line illustrative, avoiding an artistic rendering of the story—this would only hide the truth, the grit and the shocking reality of Queercide. Employing an aesthetic that mimics a public broadcaster documentary it aims to challenge viewers who have a choice to act—to intervene—but seldom exercise those choices.

My film is a cry—a wail most mothers know only at the death of their children. It is a keening, a vocal lament. No parent is meant to put their child in a grave.”