Photographer Interviews


Photographer Zanele Muholi on Fighting Homophobic Violence With Portraiture

September 17, 2015

By David Walker

© ZANELE MUHOLI/COURTESY STEVENSON CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG AND YANCEY RICHARDSON, NEW YORK

"Lumka Stemela, Nyanga East, Cape Town, 2011." Muholi's portraits of participants in her ongoing "Faces and Phases" project form part of her "Isibonelo/Evidence" exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. One of her goals, she says, is "disorganizing the mindset of the homophobe."

South African gays and lesbians continue to be subject to violent persecution, despite the country’s official policy of acceptance. Homophobes have beaten a number of gays and lesbians to death, and raped lesbians in order to “cure” them. Since 2006, Zanele Muholi has chosen to confront the violence by making more than 250 portraits of queer black “participants” that humanize...

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