International Center of Photography Celebrates Zanele Muholi at 11th Annual ICP Spotlights Luncheon on November 2, 2022

Sep 20, 2022

NEW YORK, NY (September 20, 2022)—The International Center of Photography (ICP), the world’s leading institution dedicated to photography and visual culture, presents its 11th annual Spotlights benefit, celebrating internationally-acclaimed South African visual activist and photographer Zanele Muholi (they/them) at an in-person reception and interview program on Wednesday, November 2 at 11:30 a.m. The program will also be live-streamed for no cost. Muholi will be in conversation with Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, Thelma Golden (she/her).

Founded in 2012, ICP Spotlights has spent ten years celebrating the immense talent of women imagemakers influencing the world of photography and visual culture. In its second decade and beyond, ICP Spotlights continues to make space for conversations regarding gender diversity in the field of photography. Though in the past ICP Spotlights has primarily supported women imagemakers, the ICP Spotlights Committee now looks to a more gender expansive community of imagemakers when determining the honoree of this prestigious award. In its second decade and beyond, ICP looks forward to celebrating women, non-binary, trans, intersex, and other gender expansive imagemakers at ICP Spotlights.

Zanele Muholi uses portraiture to disrupt the dominant images of Black women, non-binary, trans, and intersex people in the media today. Muholi writes: “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 movements through visual histories for reference and posterity so that future generations will note that we were here.”

In conversation with Thelma Golden, Muholi will explore specific themes in their work, including gender presentation and portraiture, queer existence and belonging, and the prevalence of stigma in African culture regarding homosexuality.

“We are so pleased to honor the artistic achievements of Zanele Muholi, one of the great photographers working today,” said David E. Little, Executive Director of ICP. “In the spirit of ICP’s mission of concerned photography, Muholi creates powerful and political portraits that reveal, question, and liberate identity.”

All funds raised through the event will support ICP’s education programs and exhibitions, with a portion of all proceeds going toward the Mary Ellen Mark Memorial Scholarship Fund for scholarships to ICP’s One-Year Certificate program. The scholarship was founded in 2016 at ICP Spotlights to honor the memory of the influential and respected photographer Mary Ellen Mark. This scholarship was established to eliminate barriers for applicants to ICP’s intensive full-time programs based on merit.

The 2022 ICP Spotlights Committee includes Honor Brodie, Renee Harbers Liddell, Almudena Legorreta, and Stefano Tonchi. Past Spotlights honorees include Catherine Opie, Nadia Hallgren, Deana Lawson, Lindsay Peoples-Wagner, Mickalene Thomas, Lynsey Addario, Laurie Simmons, Lauren Greenfield, Carrie Mae Weems, and Shirin Neshat.

For more information about supporting ICP Spotlights, visit or contact [email protected]. For press inquiries, contact [email protected].

About Zanele Muholi

Zanele Muholi is a visual activist and photographer born in Umlazi, Durban, and living in Johannesburg. They co-founded the Forum for Empowerment of Women (FEW) in 2002, and in 2009 founded Inkanyiso, a forum for queer and visual (activist) media. They continue to train and co-facilitate photography workshops for young women in the townships. Muholi studied Advanced Photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Newtown, Johannesburg, and in 2009 completed an MFA: Documentary Media at Ryerson University, Toronto. In 2013, they became an Honorary Professor at the University of the Arts/Hochschule für Künste Bremen. 

Awards and accolades received include the Spectrum International Prize for Photography (2020); Rees Visionary Award by Amref Health Africa (2019); a fellowship from the Royal Photographic Society, UK (2018); France’s Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2017); the Mbokodo Award in the category of Visual Arts (2017); ICP Infinity Award for Documentary and Photojournalism (2016); Africa'Sout! Courage and Creativity Award (2016); Outstanding International Alumni Award from Ryerson University (2016); Fine Prize for an emerging artist at the 2013 Carnegie International; and the Prince Claus Award (2013). 

A mid-career retrospective by the artist was exhibited at Tate Modern, London in 2020-21 and the exhibition will travel over the next few years to the Gropius Bau in Berlin and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. Previous solo exhibitions have taken place at the Norval Foundation, Cape Town (2020); The Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African and African American Art at Harvard University (2020); Seattle Art Museum (2019); Colby Museum, Maine (2019); Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Georgia (2018); New Art Exchange, Nottingham, UK (2018); Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires (2018); LUMA Westbau (2018); Fotografiska, Stockholm (2018); Durban Art Gallery (a survey exhibition conceptualized as a homecoming) (2017); Market Photo Workshop, Johannesburg (2017); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2017); Autograph ABP, London (2017); Maitland Institute, Cape Town (2017); Standard Bank Gallery, Grahamstown (2016); Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool (2015); Brooklyn Museum (2015); Akershus Kunstsenter, Norway (2015); Einsteinhaus, Ulm (2014); Schwules Museum, Berlin (2014); and Casa Africa, Las Palmas (2011). The Faces and Phases series has been shown at the South African Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013); DOCUMENTA 13 (2012), and the 29th São Paulo Biennial (2010).

Muholi exhibited in May You Live in Interesting Times, the 58th Venice Biennale (2019); they produced a city-wide project titled Masihambisane: on Visual Activism for Performa 17, New York (2017) and featured in the inaugural exhibitions at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town. Muholi won the 2019 “Best Photography Book Award” by the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation and the Lucie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Photography for Somnyama Ngonyama: Hail, The Dark Lioness (Aperture) and was shortlisted for the 2015 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize for the publication Faces and Phases 2006-14 (Steidl/The Walther Collection). Other publications include Zanele Muholi: African Women Photographers #1 (Casa Africa and La Fábrica, 2011); Faces and Phases (Prestel, 2010); and Only half the picture (Stevenson, 2006).

About Thelma Golden

Thelma Golden is Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, the world’s leading institution devoted to visual art by artists of African descent. Golden began her career as a Studio Museum intern in 1985. In 1988 she joined the Whitney Museum of American Art, where she launched her influential curatorial practice. In 2000 Golden returned to the Studio Museum as Deputy Director for Exhibitions and Programs, working closely with Director Lowery Stokes Sims. She succeeded Dr. Sims as Director in 2005. Under her leadership, the Studio Museum has gained increased renown as a global leader in the exhibition of contemporary art, a center for innovative education, and a cultural anchor in the Harlem community.

About the International Center of Photography

The International Center of Photography (ICP) is the world’s leading institution dedicated to photography and visual culture. Cornell Capa founded ICP in 1974 to champion “concerned photography”—socially and politically minded images that can educate and change the world. Through our exhibitions, education programs, community outreach, and public programs, ICP offers an open forum for dialogue about the power of the image. Since its inception, ICP has presented more than 700 exhibitions, provided thousands of classes, and hosted a wide variety of public programs. ICP launched its new integrated center on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in January 2020. Located at 79 Essex Street, ICP is the cultural anchor of Essex Crossing, one of the most highly anticipated and expansive mixed-use developments in New York City. ICP pays respect to the original stewards of this land, the Lenape people, and other indigenous communities. Visit to learn more about the museum and its programs.

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Image: Zanele Muholi, Bester IX, Philadelphia, 2018. Gelatin silver print. © Zanele Muholi. Courtesy of the artist, Yancey Richardson, New York, and Stevenson Cape Town/Johannesburg

Press Contacts:

Nicole Straus Public Relations

Amanda Domizio, 347-229-2877, [email protected]

Margery Newman, 212-475-0252, [email protected]

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