Zanele Muholi

Aurora Girls High School Photo Group

South Africa · Photography

Aurora Girls High School Photo Group exhibition in Soweto, 2014.

Visual activist Zanele Muholi was awarded the AFIELD fellowship in 2014 for their initiative Aurora Girls High School Photo Group, a course for young girls from Soweto, a township in Johannesburg. Muholi has been “re-writing a black queer and trans visual history of South Africa”.

Internationally recognised for their photographic portraits of South African sexual minorities, Zanele Muholi has long been a leading activist in exposing hate crimes and punitive rapes.

In 2014, with their collaborators Linda and Lindeka, they initiated a photography course for a number of young women (13 to 20 years old) attending The Aurora Girls High School, in Soweto. By means of photographic reportage, the students were encouraged to express their daily life and related social issues, learning how to narrate this visually. When the project started, the class only had one camera to share, yet they produced several outstanding photographic reportages.

Published on Zanele’s blog Inkanyiso, these reportages were first exhibited in September at the Aurora Girls High School. As a result, that same month, a few students from this class were invited to attend a workshop on photography as a tool for expression at the South African Centre for Photography in Cape Town.

In the frame of AFIELD mentorship programs from 2018 to 2020, Zanele Muholi became the mentor of two younger women in 2018, Lerato Dumse and Thembela Dick who wanted to engage in visual activism in South Africa.

Zanele Muholi Afield Fellow 2014

Aurora Girls High School Photo Group exhibition in Soweto, 2014.

Zanele Muholi Afield Fellow 2014

Zanele Muholi with a girl of the Aurora Girls High School, Soweto, 2014.

Zanele Muholi (Umlazi, South Africa, 1972) is a visual activist based in Johannesburg. They co-founded the Forum for Empowerment of Women (FEW) in 2002, and Inkanyiso, a forum for queer and visual activist media in 2009. Muholi has won numerous awards including the ICP Infinity Award for Documentary and Photojournalism (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).

Muholi has exhibited their work in several international exhibitions including dOCUMENTA 13; 55th Venice Biennale; 29th São Paulo Biennial, Performa, NY; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Brooklyn Museum, New York; MEP, Paris.

Zanele Muholi Afield Fellow 2014

Zanele Muholi by Sebenzile, Parktown, 2016.

Some of the photos from the Aurora Girls High School Photo Group, Soweto, 2014.