The self-styled visual activist once explained the urgent motivation behind their photographic work, typically stark portraiture of fellow Black queer South Africans, with the words: ‘I’m boiling inside, like any great man I want to be counted in history, I want to produce that history, I want to say this is me’. Their work eschews exploiting experiences of trauma, however, and is in its way celebratory. It has also led to Muholi being celebrated: recent solo exhibitions include Gropius Bau in Berlin, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, the Finnish Museum of Photography in Helsinki, Fotografihuset in Oslo and GL Strand in Copenhagen. The artist was also honoured at the International Center of Photography’s annual Spotlights benefit. Muholi has been experimenting beyond the lens, following a series of lockdown paintings with new sculptural busts based on their imagery. They are also inspiring the next generation, opening the Muholi Art Institute this year, which offers studios and residencies to disadvantaged artists from both Cape Town and rural South Africa.
Most influential people in 2022 in the contemporary artworld
Artist - South African artist and ‘visual activist’
28 in 2022