The Most Inspiring Female Artists

Zanele Muholi, who lives and works in Johannesburg, describes herself as a “visual activist“ and is also an activist for the South African LGBTI community. Even though South Africa legitimized the rights of same-sex weddings in 2006, sexual minorities are often victims of discrimination, assault, and murder.

Muholi‘s declared aim is to rewrite the history of black homosexual women and transgender people in South Africa through ongoing photo projects in black and white; Face and Phases (started in 2006) is  an archive of photographs of South Africa’s black lesbian community. In 2014 she started the project Somnyama Ngonyama (Hail The Dark Lioness). Muholi turned the camera on herself against different backgrounds, showing herself with historically loaded props, e.g. wearing a metal chain, or putting rubber tyres around her neck in reference to “necklacing“.

“The black body itself is the material, the black body that is ever scrutinized, and violated and undermined,“ she said in an interview in The Guardian in 2017.

Degrees and exhibitions:

Muholi studied advanced photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Newtown, Johannesburg, and completed a MFA at Ryerson University, Toronto, in 2009.

She is co-founder of the Forum of Empowerment of Women and is an honorary professor at the Hochschule für Künste, Bremen.

The artist participated in the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013 and documenta 13 in 2012 and had numerous solo exhibitions, e.g. at the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, Luma Westbau, Zürich or Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.

For more information: wentrupgallery.com

Photo Credits: „Bakhambile, Parktown (from the series Somnyama Ngonyama)“, 2016
Silver gelatin print, 80 x 60 cm / 31 1/2 x 23 2/3 in Courtesy the artist Courtesy the artist, Wentrup, Berlin; Stevenson, Cape Town/Johannesburg and Yancey Richardson, New York