In 2006 Zanele Muholi began photographing black lesbian and transgendered individuals in South Africa, documenting and giving visibility to an often excluded community. The portraits, though self-conscious of the positionality of the subject, are poignant and candid, exquisite in black-and-white. Mostly of youthful subjects, they are almost like family portraits, awkward and raw. Compositionally, they draw from and give new meaning to traditional portraits of Africans taken by white colonialists, aiming to humanize rather than exploit.
She says of her work:
In the face of all the challenges our community encounters daily, I embarked on a journey of visual activism to ensure that there is black queer visibility. It is important to mark, map and preserve our mo(ve)ments through visual histories for reference and posterity so that future generations will note that we were here.
Muholi also worked as a photographer and reporter for Behind the Mask, an online magazine that deals with LGBTI issues in Africa. She has shown her photographs worldwide.