Presented by The Friends of Education of The Museum of Modern Art as part of the series Conversations: Among Friends, this evening's program features a conversation between artist Zanele Muholi and actress, director, and playwright Nomonde Mbusi, moderated by Judith B. Hecker, MoMA's assistant curator for drawings and prints. The program will focus on Muholi’s work as a "visual activist" dedicated to issues of race, gender, and sexuality, and will reflect on this year’s 20th anniversary of democracy in South Africa—still a work in progress. Muholi is best known for her photographic series Faces and Phases, five of which are in MoMA’s collection. Begun in 2006, this series portrays black members of the LGBTI community in South Africa and around the world, giving voice to their stories and displacing conventional perceptions. Nomonde Mbusi, one of Muholi’s participants in Faces and Phases and an artist and activist in her own right, joins the discussion. Following the program, guests are invited to continue the conversation at an intimate reception catered by Fantasy Fare in The Cullman Mezzanine. Muholi’s newest book, Zanele Muholi: Faces and Phases 2006–2014 (The Walther Collection/Steidl 2014) will be available for purchase and signing by the artist.
Zanele Muholi was born in 1972 in Umlazi township in Durban, South Africa, and currently lives in Johannesburg. Prior to her photographic journeys, she worked as a human rights activist, raising issues facing black lesbian women in South Africa. In 2009 she founded Inkanyiso, an organization centered on visual arts, activism, media, and advocacy. Muholi studied at the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg, and graduated from Ryerson University in Toronto in 2009 with an MFA in documentary media. She is the winner of awards from the 2009 Rencontres de Bamako African Photography Biennial; the 2013 Carnegie International; and recipient of a 2013 Prince Claus Award. Muholi’s work has been featured in the 55th Venice Biennale; Documenta 13; the 29th São Paulo Biennial; and has been shown at prestigious museums worldwide. Her work can be found in numerous museum collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; South African National Gallery, Cape Town; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London; The Menil Collection, Houston; and The Walther Collection, Neu-Ulm, Germany; among others. Her award-winning documentary Difficult Love (2010) has been shown at film festivals around the world.
Nomonde Mbusi was trained in dramatic arts at the University of Zululand. Since 1997, she has performed in numerous theater productions and is best known for her role as Fikile in Flipping the Script, a four women show on gender-based violence (2004-07). In 2004 she cofounded Insika Productions with Muholi, where she worked as artistic director and facilitator. Through Insika, she organized creative arts healing workshops for women survivors of violence in organizations such as POWA-People Opposing Women Abuse and FEW-Forum for the Empowerment of Women. Her recent acting accomplishments include the lead role of Brenda on SABC 1’s drama Usindiso (Redemption), and Thando in Dr. John Kani’s play Nothing but The Truth at the Soweto Theatre, along with several other television and radio performances.
Judith B. Hecker, Assistant Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints at MoMA, organized Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now: Prints from The Museum of Modern Art (2011), which featured some 80 prints, artist’s books, posters, and wall stencils by artists living in South Africa that were acquired by the Museum. She co-curated MoMA’s presentation of the touring exhibition William Kentridge: Five Themes (2010), and authored the accompanying publication Trace: William Kentridge, Prints from The Museum of Modern Art.
Presented by The Friends of Education of The Museum of Modern Art, Conversations: Among Friends explores works of art as reflections of their political and social contexts.