Zanele Muholi 6
Zanele Muholi (b. 1972, Durban) is a Johannesburg based photographer and Gay rights activist. Although Muholi has been known to use colour photography she is known for her ongoing series of black and white portraits, which explores Gay and Lesbian identity in Black African culture. She works predominantly in the genre of portraiture in an attempt to create an archive of sorts, mapping a marginalized community for posterity. Muholi turned to portraiture because of its documentary qualities, allowing her to help women commemorate being openly Lesbian in mainly Black communities that are for the most part indifferent towards Gay issues. Her work is an endeavor to make Gays and Lesbians in Black communities more visible and accepted, where alternative lifestyles are largely ignored, eschewed, dismissed as ‘non-African’, and even the most
basic human rights are not affrded to individuals who live such lives. Culturally constructed indignity and misplaced social engineering surrounding Gays and Lesbians in South Africa is at the heart of Muholi’s work. She challenges the commonly accepted argument that homosexuality is non-African. Provoked by hate crimes against Gays and Lesbians in South Africa, especially regarding acts of ‘corrective rape’, Muholi’s images attempt to unmask the humanity of her subjects. By exposing the presence of corrective rape Muholi openly condemns the dwindling population of South Africa’s queer and transgender community. Ultimately Muholi’s work communicates the message that to be Black, Lesbian and African is by virtue a political statement in a society that remains submerged under Eurocentric, patriarchal, and heterosexual ideologies.
A catalogue detailing the works and artists included in the third iJusi portfolio, curated by Pieter Hugo.