As part of its Great Texts/Big Questions lecture series, the Institute for Creative Arts (ICA, formerly GIPCA) presents internationally acclaimed photographer and visual activist, Zanele Muholi.

Muholi will present photographs from her latest series Somnyama Ngonyama followed by the Faces and Phases series (2006-2014). Faces and Phases is a visual narrative that celebrates and commemorates the lives of black lesbians and transgender individuals who dare to make their bodies/ selves visible at the height of ongoing violent hate crimes in South Africa.

Muholi writes:
‘For the past 10 years I journeyed and captured specifically Faces and Phases photos from different Gauteng townships and surrounding areas documenting black LGBT portraits. I realised from those trajectories that my act was a form of transgression. As an insider who identifies as a black lesbian photographer/visual activist, one faces a lot of challenges. Nevertheless, my work is aimed at increasing exposure and visibility of us, as her/history makers who continue to contribute towards human rights defenders’ struggles in South African townships and communities. The project expresses our existence and ability to exert our presence in a country filled with hate crimes and other prejudices.’ 

In addition to this visual presentation, Muholi will show a short documentary entitled We Live in Fear (2013).

[Photo credit: Zanele Muholi - Bona, Charlottesville (2015)]

Zanele Muholi is a visual activist and photographer born in Umlazi, Durban, and based in Johannesburg. She co-founded the Forum for Empowerment of Women (FEW) in 2002, and Inkanyiso queer & visual (activists) media in 2009. Her mission is ‘to re-write a black queer and trans visual history of South Africa for the world to know of our resistance and existence at the height of hate crimes in South Africa and beyond.’

Muholi is the recipient of the 2016 Infinity Award for Documentary and Photojournalism and numerous other awards including: the Ryerson Alumni Achievement Award (2016), the Fine Prize for an emerging artist at the 2013 Carnegie International; a Prince Claus Award (2013); the Index on Censorship – Freedom of Expression Art Award (2013), and a Casa Africa award for best female photographer.

Faces and Phases has shown at, among others, dOCUMENTA (13), the Venice Biennale, Imaginary Fact: South African Art and the Archive, and the São Paulo Biennale. Muholi is an Honorary Professor of the University of the Arts/Hochschule für Künste Bremen.

The presentation, followed by an open question and answer session, will take place from 17:30 – 19:00 on Friday 20 May 2016 at Hiddingh Hall, UCT Hiddingh Campus, 31 – 37 Orange Street, Cape Town. Refreshments will be served from 17:00. No booking is necessary and all are welcome. Presented in association with Draft’s Any Given Sunday series of public interventions.

Listen to the podcast here.

For more information, contact the ICA office: +27 21 650 7156 or

Start: 20 May ’16 5:00 pm

End: 20 May ’16 7:00 pm

Venue: Hiddingh Hall

Address: UCT Hiddingh Campus, 31 Orange Street, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa