Zanele Muholi is a South African visual activist. She was born in Umlazi, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, and currently lives in Johannesburg. Muholi co-founded the Forum for Empowerment of Women (FEW) in 2002, and in 2009 founded Inkanyiso (www.inkanyiso.org), a forum for queer and visual activist media. Her self-proclaimed 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.” She continues to train and co-facilitate photography workshops for young women in the townships.
Muholi studied advanced photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Newtown, Johannesburg. In 2009 completed an MFA in documentary media at Ryerson University, Toronto.
She has won numerous awards, including the Ryerson Alumni Achievement Award (2015), the Fine Prize for an emerging artist at the 2013 Carnegie International, the Prince Claus Award (2013), the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award for Arts (2013), the Casa Africa Award for best female photographer, and a Fondation Blachère prize at Bamako Encounters Biennial of African Photography (2009). Her Faces and Phases series was shown at, among others, the South African pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013), Documenta 13 (2012), and the 29th São Paulo Biennal (2010). She is shortlisted for the 2015 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize for her publication Faces and Phases: 2006-14 (Steidl/The Walther Collection).
Muholi is an honorary professor at the University of the Arts Bremen.