The photographer Zanele Muholi’s artwork
In this issue of SPW’s newsletter, we unfortunately highlight an event that recently occurred in South Africa, not in favor of, but against initiatives that connect sexuality and the arts. An artist has accused the South African Arts and Culture Minister Lulu Xingwana of being homophobic after she stormed out in disgust over a “pornographic” and “immoral” piece of artwork featuring black lesbian couples. The artist is Zanele Muholi, a critically acclaimed photographer whose work explored the identity and relationships of black lesbians in South Africa.
Her exhibition in Johannesburg last August aimed to celebrate the role of black South African women, but the Minister judged her artwork to be “immoral, offensive and going against nation-building” and refused to speak at the opening of the exhibition at Constitution Hill. This situation has caused concern among South African activists about the systemic sexual discrimination in Africa and the possible censorship of the Arts, which could compromise the struggle against homophobia.
Zanele Muholi won the Casa Africa award for best female photographer and a Fondation Blachère award at Les Rencontres de Bamako biennial of African photography (2009). She also received a Fanny Ann Eddy accolade from IRN-Africa for her outstanding contributions to the study of sexuality in Africa at the Genders & Sexualities in Africa Conference held in Syracuse, New York. Her work is being shown in the group show In Between in connection with her residency at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania.
> Visit the Zanele Muholi’s website
> Arts minister in lesbian art photo furore
> African minister describes lesbian photos as immoral
> South African Arts & Culture Minister Walks out of Lesbian Exhibit defying the meaning of Arts and Culture