The Maison Européenne de la Photographie presents the first French retrospective dedicated to Zanele Muholi, an internationally renowned South African photographer and activist. Zanele Muholi‘s work documents the lives of the black LGBTQIA+ community and the individuals who make it up.
This major event, which brings together more than 200 photographs, videos and installations created since the early 2000s, as well as numerous archival documents, spans the entirety of Zanele Muholi‘s career to date, paying tribute to one of the most respected artists of our time.
Zanele Muholi, who defines herself as a “visual artist-activist,” uses the camera as a tool against injustice. In the mid-1990s, South Africa experienced significant social and political change, with the establishment of democracy in 1994 and the adoption of a new constitution in 1996, the first in the world to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, black LGBTQIA+ people still remain targets of violence and prejudice. Zanele Muholi is closely involved in the life of this community and her photographic work is inseparable from her activism.
In her individual and collective portraits, Zanele Muholi seeks to make visible queer and racialized people, while questioning the stereotypes and dominant representations associated with these communities. Muholi’s photographs show the diversity and uniqueness of community members, highlighting their courage and dignity in the face of discrimination.
Muholi prefers a collaborative approach and invites the people he photographs to be active participants in the work, helping to determine the location, clothing and pose adopted for the shoot. Zanele Muholi also turns to herself to question the image of black women in history.
Zanele Muholi‘s photographs encourage the viewer to question conventional wisdom and think differently. They create a new lexicon of positive images for underrepresented and misrepresented communities in order to promote mutual respect. Zanele Muholi‘s retrospective is a must-see opportunity to experience the work of an artist who uses her art to advance the rights of the Black LGBTQIA+ community.